Overland Data Enters Storage Software Business With Management Suite


Overland Data, known for its tape automation hardware, is taking a new tack in the SMB space by becoming a software vendor.

The company, based here, on Tuesday unveiled a suite of storage management software applications that can be sold independently of its hardware, and in doing so hopes to expand its solution provider base by targeting storage-software-focused VARs in the SMB space for the first time.

The new suite of products includes three applications that can be sold as a bundle or as stand-alone products, said John Cloyd, vice president and general manager of the company's Storage Management Business Unit.

The first application, Overland Storage Resource Manager, analyzes storage trends and takes corrective actions to adjust storage resources. Such actions include deleting and moving of files, said Cloyd.

The second application, Overland Storage Planner, helps businesses and their solution providers analyze existing storage environments for use in designing, deploying or upgrading a SAN. For instance, said Cloyd, it can identify duplicate data or infrastructures to see if they should be migrated to new arrays. Customers can also use it to analyze the age of their data to predict how fast their data is growing. "This tool is especially good for VARs and consultants," he said. "They can design SANs that are optimized for cost or for performance."

The third application, Overland Storage Area Network Manager, discovers, manages and monitors multi-vendor SAN devices. Customers can use this application to discover all their storage assets, understand their storage topology and set thresholds, Cloyd said.

The new applications run on a Windows NT or Windows 2000 server and have agents to work with Windows, HP-UX, Solaris and Linux platforms.

Overland Data put together the software bundle because it saw a need in its solution provider base for a storage management suite aimed at the SMB space, said Cloyd.

"There are many enterprise-class storage management applications out there," Cloyd said. "But they require six-month deployments and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, putting them beyond the reach of most clients. They are too big and complicated. There's a real need in the midrange for products to do just what the customer wants."

The new software is targeted specifically at the SMB space, with storage capacities of 1 to 25 Tbytes. That market is perfect for Overland Data, said Cloyd, because the company works exclusively with solution providers. Overland Data has 250 channel partners worldwide, compared with 165 a year ago, he said, and has the infrastructure to support up to 900 solution providers.

The company plans to offer lead generation and distribution, tiered support and access to training centers. The software itself will generate 18 percent to 30 percent margins to channel partners, not including their value-add services, said Cloyd.

One part missing from the software suite, a backup application, was left out by design, Cloyd said. "We don't plan to turn this into a backup product," he said. "Backup and restore is a mature space. We are partners with many backup application vendors for our hardware."

The Storage Resource Manager application is available now. Storage Area Network Manager is expected to be available Aug. 1, while Storage Planner is expected to ship around Oct. 31. Pricing will vary according to number of Tbytes managed, ranging from $20,000 per Tbyte and down.

The software can be sold in chunks of 100 Gbytes, said Cloyd, making the entry-level price for 100 Gbytes of data about $2,000. As data grows, customers can purchase additional access keys via their solution providers, with the solution provider handling the deployment, he said.

There is an annual maintenance charge of 18 percent, for which discounts are offered to solution providers, said Cloyd.

Don McNaughton, sales manager at HorizonTek, a $10 million Huntington, N.Y.-based solution provider focusing mainly on data backup in the SMB space, said that despite Overland Data's newness in the storage software market, its product suite seems to be a good fit for its business.

While McNaughton has yet to see the product, he said it should go a long way toward cutting the cost and time for deploying backup solutions by eliminating a lot of junk data and resulting in smaller hardware requirements.

The fact that Overland Data is not offering a backup component to the product suite is a wise move on the vendor's part, said McNaughton, because it will not compete with backup software from other vendors such as Veritas Software.

McNaughton called Overland Data the most channel-friendly vendor with which to partner. "They have no direct sales, which is important to our world," he said. "There's never a situation where we compete with them."