Connected Data, best known in the channel as the company owned by Drobo’s founder, and which subsequently acquired Drobo, has not had a strong channel play for its own core product, Transporter, a DropBox competitor. That changes today, however, with the announcement of Transporter Genesis, a product for businesses which instead of being hosted in the cloud uses a turnkey appliance which the channel can sell, and offers what Connected Data says is a DropBox experience at a fraction of the price.
Connected Data believes that while file sharing is something that customers want and need, as a commercial operation, it has been positively disastrous for the companies involved.
“Cloud services have a massive user base, but the problem has been monetizing it,” said Jim Sherhart, VP of Marketing at Connected Data. “DropBox has publicly stated that 97 per cent of the users of their services take an option where they don’t pay anything. So cloud services cost more to run than they make per user, and the companies lose money.” They lose a LOT of money. Box reported a loss of $168 million on $124 million in revenue.
“It doesn’t add up with the cost of the back end charges for the service,” Sherhart said. “And Google and Microsoft are headed to giving away the service for free to get your data so they can advertise to you.”
Sherhart said that instead of leaving this market as fast as it can, Connected Data is tackling the commercial market with a new approach which removes these back end charges.
“We separate the DropBox user experience from where it’s hosted,” he said. “We built our own private DropBox, a business-class appliance solution which channel partners can make money off. We are very unique there, because we aren’t hosted in the cloud.”
Sherhart said that while hardware is alive and well, for file sharing it needs a Dropbox-like experience to satisfy users. At the same time, enterprises want to purchase and deploy hardware despite the fact users love the DropBox model, in large part because it will allow them to control the application.
“Transporter Genesis is just like DropBox but a fraction of the price, with much higher capacity and 100% private, so you don’t have security concerns,” he said. “It is a turnkey appliance the channel partner sells that gives the user experience they want. There isn’t even a monthly per user charge, just the cost of the appliance.
“There is a central service in the sky, but all it does is create a direct connection and then gets out of the way,” Sherhart added. “That is how we can provide the service without charging a monthly fee. We don’t have the storage and bandwidth cost.”
Sherhart said the appliances, which have 24 TB of storage, and can scale up to 48 TB, work just like DropBox. Each user has a native folder, and anything in it will automatically sync, the same as DropBox. Data stored on a Transporter can also be accessed from anywhere. Because the data is stored onsite, it meets the needs of legal, financial and medical companies and also new anti- public-cloud legislation in countries like Germany, Japan, Russia and China.
The 24 TB Genesis appliance starts at under $10,000, and for large users, systems can be knitted together in grid-like fashion. Other business class features include redundant hardware architecture, SSD metadata acceleration, Active Directory Integration, versioning, and Read-only Access.
Sherhart said that prior to Transporter Genesis, there was not a channel play for Transporter.
“We started with small personal server devices,” he said. “It was a $400 product for the personal server market and small business. It wasn’t a VAR product. We have 10,000 of these systems in active daily use, but almost 15 per cent are used by companies with over 1000 employees. Fortune 100 companies were asking for a business class Transporter. Now with Transporter Genesis we have a fantastic channel story. There is up to 30 points of margin for resellers.”
Sherhart also stressed that selling an appliance for this application is much superior to selling a cloud service product, because with the cloud product, the VAR finds it harder to maintain the relationship with the customer.
“We will be leveraging the Drobo channel for this,” he said. “We will lean heavily on our distribution partners. Those who sell mid-tier storage solutions like Nexsan will find this very complementary.
“We will take zero per cent direct. We generate leads on our web site, but they will be passed to the channel.”
In Canada, Connected Data’s distributors are Ingram Micro (Promark), D&H and Synnex.