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Wasabi CEO: Partners Are Leading Cloud Storage Boom Amid Pandemic

In the coming years, “if the channel can get smart and engage with cloud, it’s going to be a good time for them,” David Friend told CRN.

The global coronavirus pandemic is accelerating cloud storage transformations, creating new opportunities for channel partners that focus on almost any technology platform or industry, David Friend, founder and CEO of cloud storage standout Wasabi, told CRN.

“People are migrating their data to the cloud more now than they ever did before the pandemic,” Friend told CRN after his company presented last week at CRN parent The Channel Company’s XChange+ 2020 Virtual Experience. “Our business has been booming.”

Wasabi, founded by Friend and other former Carbonite executives in 2015, has more than tripled revenue this year over last, maintaining what’s been steady 40 to 45 percent quarterly growth since it launched its cloud storage solution in 2017.

[Related: Wasabi Warns Against Hidden Cloud Storage Fees, Cloud Lock-in]

That surging business, now boasting some 18,000 customers, has been accompanied by impressive channel growth that also hasn’t slowed through the crisis.

As a company dedicated to moving as much of its business as it can through the channel, Friend said, Wasabi has amassed a stable of more than 3,000 resellers and systems integrators, with another 200 to 300 added every month into a program only two years old.

The value of bringing to market the startup’s hot storage solution can be summed up in a simple pitch: About one-fifth the price of Amazon S3 storage, but faster.

“What more than that do you need to say,” Friend said.

And Wasabi created a pricing structure and incentives that compete not only with the hyper-scale cloud vendors, but also on-premises data storage solutions from the likes of Dell EMC or NetApp, he told CRN.

“People are starting to learn it’s a great product for the channel because virtually every company on the face of the earth needs some kind of storage. The storage we sell is simple and easy to understand,” Friend said.

It doesn’t take much training to learn to sell the solution, Friend added, and “every one of your customers can be a prospect for Wasabi.”

One reason Wasabi has achieved such rapid channel expansion is that its roughly 200 technology partners are introducing it into their own channels. Data backup and disaster recovery providers in particular—companies like Veeam and Rubrik—benefit from jointly going to market with Wasabi to bring down the storage cost on deals, Friend said.

“A lot of products, file sharing, video editing, machines that do genomics, you name it, everything needs storage,” Friend said.

Customers that had been putting off cloud-based storage transformations are now telling Wasabi the Covid-19 crisis has elevated their priority.

“People are in a rush to move data into the cloud” because of the pandemic, Friend said.

Most storage infrastructure was designed to only support a small percentage of employees working outside the office, and legacy solutions are failing the test to scale work-from-home initiatives.

“In general, the channel seems to be playing a very positive role in getting people through the pandemic,” Friend said. “I think as the cloud becomes more diverse and complex, the channel is going to play a bigger and bigger role.”

That trend has defied the common wisdom from a few years back, he said, when fears were pervasive that AWS, Microsoft, Google and other emerging public clouds would dis-intermediate the channel.

“We kind of bet on the opposite,” Friend said.

That bet has paid off as the cloud has become more heterogenous, he said. In another five or 10 years, there will be even more players offering best-of-breed solutions interoperating across common standards.

“It will be the job of the channel partner to help the customer put all that together,” Friend said. “If the channel can get smart and engage with cloud, it’s going to be a good time for them.”

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