Overland: Channel Version First

An Overland executive told CRN that the channel version of the new autoloader, code-named Dreadnaught, is expected to ship this month, while an OEM version is expected to start shipping no earlier than June to an unnamed customer.

The worst-kept secret in the storage industry is that Dell is the customer that plans to OEM the autoloader from Overland, a move that Overland&'s solution providers have been watching closely.

Neither Overland nor Dell would confirm an OEM relationship, but industry watchers and VARs close to Overland are convinced that Dell is the OEM customer.

Still, solution providers said they are pleasantly surprised that the autoloader is coming sooner than they expected and that they will get it before Dell. “We were expecting it at the end of this quarter, at the same time [as Dell],” said John Thome, vice president of Chi, a storage solution provider in Cleveland.

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The assumed OEM deal with Dell will work as long as Overland protects its channels, something the company is known for, Thome added. “Am I concerned? Yes. Am I assured by Overland it will protect the channel? Yes.”

Don McNaughton, sales manager at HorizonTek, a Huntington, N.Y.-based Overland partner, said the vendor should look to its soon-to-end OEM relationship with Hewlett-Packard as one that actually worked for the channel.

“We liked the HP relationship,” McNaughton said. “We could actually feed off it by pointing out to customers that HP qualified the product. It was good to have the OEM name behind Overland.”

Late last month, Overland executives said during the San Diego-based company&'s second-quarter 2006 earnings conference that the company is shifting R&D funds from its new Ultamus line of primary storage arrays to the OEM tape autoloader in order to build up its OEM support infrastructure.

Christopher Calisi, president and CEO of Overland, told CRN that the shift in R&D funds should not be interpreted as a move away from the company&'s channel products, but instead is aimed at making analysts more comfortable with the company&'s business model.

“It&'s a non-event,” Calisi said. “We wanted [Wall] Street to understand so they have more confidence in our model. It&'s to get our new OEMs to market as fast as possible. We have time with the Ultamus. It&'s in the market now.”

Solution providers said they are prepared to give Overland the benefit of the doubt, given its historic loyalty to its channel partners.