Cloudian launches first partner program as part of channel ramp-up

Object storage vendor Cloudian has close strategic partnerships with several other vendors who touch different parts of the storage space, and their channel partners tend to be ones who work with those vendors.

Jon Toor, Cloudian’s CMO

San Mateo CA-based object storage vendor Cloudian has announced their inaugural channel program, the Cloudian HyperForce Partners Program.

At their inception in 2011, Cloudian initially sold largely direct to a service provider customer base, but the object storage market has changed significantly since then, and Cloudian’s go-to-market strategy and channel approach have been altered accordingly.

“The market is very different from where it was two years ago, when the customers were service providers or Web 2.0 companies that acted like them,” said Jon Toor, Cloudian’s CMO. “Buying software-only solutions is fine for their model. However, the market is opening up in the enterprise space, because there they have a vast preference for buying appliances. These enterprise customers are really the reason for this channel program.”

All object storage vendors tend to enjoy the same advantage over traditional NAS in terms of scalability and relative cost, but Toor said that Cloudian’s HyperStore offering is uniquely well positioned to address both traditional customers and the emerging enterprise market.

“We are the only pure play object storage vendor that sells both an appliance and software defined storage,” he said. “That’s why Cloudian makes sense for the channel. We are unique in the channel in that they can get it all through us.”

This shift towards the enterprise market, in turn, has changed Cloudian’s channel strategy.

“Today we have a hybrid channel strategy, but part of the reason we are bringing in the new program is that we are pushing to get the channel ramped up as quickly as possible,” Toor said. “Our preference has been to always sell through the channel.”

Toor made it clear that Cloudian’s objective is to develop a select channel – perhaps a couple dozen partners in North America, a couple dozen more in EMEA, and a handful to cover the remaining geos. They are heavily focused on specific-use cases, especially data protection, and on solution providers who also work with their principal strategic vendor partners.

“In data protection, we have a lot of deployments on Veritas, Commvault and Veeam, but we have a particularly strong relationship with Rubrik,” he said. “We also have a strong relationship with Nutanix.” At the Nutanix .NEXT event last week, Cloudian demonstrated Cloudian HyperStore for Nutanix. The combined solution, which also includes Rubrik, provides limitless scalability within a single storage pool, with the cluster being expandable to other sites as well for data recovery.

“In terms of go-to-market, there is a particular synergy between our sales team and Rubrik because we fit in most seamlessly in a green fields environment,” Toor said. “That’s always the case with Rubrik.”

Another key vendor partner is Komprise, which makes a highly scalable analytics-driven data management solution that learns from the customer’s environment, greatly improves visibility, and manages, transparently moves, and archives the data.

“Komprise is an interesting play for our partners, because it’s a way of getting a foot in the door in the huge unstructured data market,” Toor said. “It’s a file management solution that lets customers move to another tier of storage, so it complements NetApp and makes it easy to sell to customers running out of space on their Tier One storage.” Cloudian and Komprise also recently announced a a joint solution that lets customers move colder data to an on-premise active archive and reclaim Tier 1 NAS capacity.

The importance of these strategic partnerships to Cloudian makes partners who also work with these other vendors and can sell a complete solution involving them paramount.

Christine Blum, Cloudian’s director of channel marketing

“Our partners tend to also be Nutanix and Komprise and Rubrik partners,” said Christine Blum, whose appointment as director of channel marketing for Cloudian was announced at the same time as the new program. Blum was previously at Pipeline Demand, which does outsourced channel and marketing campaigns, and in channel marketing roles before that at LogLogic, Birst and SugarCRM.

The Cloudian program has two tiers – Authorized and Preferred partners.

“Authorized don’t have to be certified with us,” Blum said. “Preferred partners do have to get their teams certified. They also get a higher level of discount.” Cloudian also develops customized go-to-market plans with each Preferred partner.

The program provides the table stakes that the channel typically expects of such things. This includes deal registration, a partner portal, MDF funds, assistance in developing and qualifying leads and a simplified online training curriculum.

Cloudian also assists partners both in closing deals and doing installs.

“We have some partners who are closing deals themselves on the sales side already, although that’s not the norm,” Toor said. “On the installation side, today it’s all four-legged but in the very near future we see partners being independent. We are making the installs easier all the time.”