The company rolls out smaller and less expensive appliance alternatives to Dropbox, and emphasizes that it relies on partners to show SMBs that their upfront cost is cheaper over time.
In December, Connected Data, which had been shipping private cloud file sync and share appliances to consumers for a year and a half, made its move into the commercial market with a turnkey appliance, called Transporter Genesis, which offered Dropbox-like services with greater security, and by using a private cloud, avoids the cloud service costs that have made Dropbox and Box unprofitable. Now the company is introducing two new appliances, which have been rebranded, and are significantly smaller and less expensive to response to market demands.
The Transporter Genesis name is now gone, replaced by numerical branding which indicates the number of supported users. Two models which shipped last December are now the Transporter 75, which has a usable storage capacity of 10 TB, an MSRP of $USD 9,999 and support for 75 organization users, and the Transporter 150, which has 20 usable TB, supports 150 organization users, and has an MSRP of $18,999. Both also support an unlimited number of guest users, and significantly, both are rack-mounted appliances.
The two new models, The Transporter 15 and the Transporter 30, not only support fewer users, but are significantly less expensive and both are desktop models rather than rackmounted. The Transporter 15 has 6 TB of usable storage and an MSRP of $2,499, while the Transporter 30 has 9 TB of usable storage and an MSRP of $4,999. Both have drive and network connection redundancy and, like their bigger cousins, support an unlimited number of guest users.
“This brings a more palatable form factor for small businesses,” said Jim Sherhart, VP of Marketing at Connected Data. “Most smaller companies have these in someone’s office, so the rackmount ones were overkill for most. There is a need for Transporter device that fits between the small systems we shipped for a year and a half and the rackmounts we announced last fall.”
The idea behind Transporter is that while end users love services like DropBox, they aren’t very secure, particularly since IT can’t control them and often doesn’t even know when they are on the network. DropBox also has no real way for the channel to monetize it. Transporter, in contrast, is an-on prem appliance which isn’t hosted in the cloud, but has a direct connection to Transporter’s private cloud.
“It is a turnkey appliance the channel partner sells that gives the user the experience they want” Sherhart said. “There isn’t even a monthly per user charge, just the cost of the appliance.”
The appliances work 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 some countries.
Transporter sold its consumer appliances direct and did not have a channel play, but Transporter also owns storage vendor Drobo, which IS channel-friendly, so for its commercial market products, had the ability to leverage Drobo partners who were interested in selling the sync and share appliances
“We launched a partner program for this in October, and close to 300 people signed up to be partners,” said Samina Subedar, Connected Data’s Channel Marketing Manager. “We offer 20 plus points of protected margin, and have two tiers, Authorized and Gold, with Gold having a deal registration program.”
“It’s super important to protect partners working those deals,” Sherhart said. “Even if Amazon drops prices, a partner can still make 20 points. We do this because we know product at this price point will take effort from a channel partner.”
Sherhart acknowledged that even though the total cost of the Connected Data appliances is entirely the appliance costs, with no fees for the private cloud access beyond that, some customers see the lower monthly cost for a service as a better deal, even though over the long haul, they pay much more.
“Pricing can be a problem because of objections to the upfront cost,” he said. “Some customers would rather spend $3000 a year over 12 months than pay money up front. We worked hard on one deal to get financing in place to make this work. That was a one-off program, but we are working on others which will come through distribution. We will work with partners to put financing in place to make that happen.” That’s something that as a formal program will come later, when sales levels get considerably higher.
Sherhart emphasized the channel is indispensable for them to reach SMBs.
“We see the channel as absolutely strategic to this going forward,” he said. “We need them and they need a product like this. We are starting to see some true progress on the partner side. The first 100 per cent partner deal where we had nothing at all to do with it just closed.”