While the mainstays of the storage market--backup and recovery software and storage components--are expected to continue to be the top-selling products among solution providers in the market, storage-as-a-service looks to make huge gains in 2010.
More than one-quarter of solution providers working with storage expect to add storage-as-a-service to their portfolios over the next 12 months, according to the CRN 2009 State of Technology: Storage survey of storage solution providers.
Storage-as-a-service includes such offerings as helping customers move all or part of their primary or backup storage to an Internet-based storage vault, or helping customers turn their own storage into an internal services offering.
However, 25.5 percent of solution providers that currently do not offer storage-as-a-service plan to add it over the next 12 months, according to the survey. The interest stems in part from the fact that surveyed partners said they expect storage-as-a-service to be the most profitable storage technology over the next year.
The quick growth in storage-as-a-service through the channel corresponds to a general overall growth in channel interest in cloud computing, which provides a way to dynamically combine and scale server, storage, networking and other resources outside of a company's own traditional data center for such purposes as remote data storage.
Research firm Gartner, for instance, cites cloud computing as one of the top 10 technologies that solution providers cannot afford to ignore in 2010.
Gartner furthermore found that 40 percent of solution providers are already leveraging cloud services capabilities in partnership with companies like Amazon.com, IBM, Oracle and Salesforce.com.
For many solution providers, storage-as-a-service can either be a simple way to enter the managed services business and enjoy recurring revenue for the first time, or easily add to their existing managed services offerings.
Several vendors, such as eFolder, Vembu and Zenith InfoTech, offer turnkey solutions that allow solution providers to either host storage-as-a-service for customers or to work with third-party service providers that handle the hosting while the VAR interfaces with the customer.
Meanwhile, many storage vendors are providing virtualization and other related technologies, either on their own or via strategic partnerships that allow solution providers to easily turn a customer's storage into an internal or external service.
Customers are definitely asking how much work is involved in adding the capability to charge for storage on a per-GB basis as a service, said Joel Salamone, co-owner of StorageHawk, a Washington, D.C.-based solution provider that focuses mainly on government customers.
This is especially true as companies are planning or building or moving their data centers, Salamone said.
"Storage-as-a-service is becoming important," Salamone said. "If they want to be able to provide storage-as-a-service to their customers, they need to figure out how to do cost modeling for their SAN and NAS systems, look at their RTO [return to operations] and RPO [return to prior operation] options, and balance disk vs. tape."