Exablox's First Channel Program: Bringing On-Prem, Cloud Storage To Midrange

Exablox, developer of on-premise storage arrays with cloud management capabilities for midrange customers, has introduced its first official channel program as part of a move to expand its reach in the midsize customer storage market.

Leading the move is Ezra Hookano, who in January joined Exablox as its vice president of sales after helping build channel programs at Fusion-io and Barracuda Networks.

Exablox, which last year came out of stealth mode, is the developer of the OneBlox scale-out storage appliance for midsize business customers, and the OneSystem management service for secure, multitenant cloud-based services.

[Related: Exablox Exits Stealth Mode With Channel-Only Play To Make Storage Simple]

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The Exablox OneBlox is a 2U appliance that comes with eight drive bays. Customers can add any hard drive or SSD to the appliances, each of which serves as a scale-out node in what Exablox calls a ring.

The Exablox OneBlox solution includes such storage capabilities as scale-out, deduplication, snapshots, failover, replication, ease-of-use, self-diagnosis and self-repair.

Exablox is targeting customers who have shifted from a focus on arrays for storing data to one on getting more value from their data, but who have limited options available to them in the market, Hookano told CRN.

"Since Dell acquired EqualLogic, there's been no real midrange storage offering that allows customers to start at 4 TB to 6 TB and then scale to 10, 20, 100 TB without getting price-gouged," he said. "They're forced to go to smaller vendors, or go to entry-level products from companies like EMC or NetApp."

To serve solution providers working with midsize customers who fall between the very small businesses and the midrange and larger enterprises, Exablox needs to bulk up its North American channel partner base from its current 25 partners to a goal of up to 60 partners, Hookano said.

"At Barracuda, over one month, we could maybe generate five really good leads in a place like Salt Lake City, and close three or four," he said. "If we closed them ourselves, we got those three sales. But if resellers close them, they are likely to get us additional sales. Resellers know their own markets better than we do. We need feet on the street. We trust resellers."

For Exablox's first channel program, the company is offering a 28-percent margin for registered deals vs. a single-digit margin for nonregistered deals, Hookano said.

NEXT: Developing The Exablox Channel Program

Exablox also is offering a 50-percent discount to solution providers who wish to purchase a unit on a not-for-resale basis, and can actually get a not-for-resale system at no charge after selling 10 of the appliances.

The company also is spending heavily on market and demand generation, and providing partners with a $300 SPIF for bringing in qualified leads regardless of whether a deal is closed or not. That SPIF is offered on top of the deal-registration bonus, Hookano said.

Solution providers also get recurring revenue opportunities from Exablox, Hookano said.

Maintenance contracts are important for customers, given all the software offered with Exablox's cloud management system, he said. "Even if a customer accidently renews directly with Exablox, we will provide a rebate to partners, less a 3-percent handling fee," he said.

Exablox has done well in designing a solution for midrange customers, said Dean Cohen, a sales representative at Virtual Graffiti, an Irvine, Calif.-based solution provider and Exablox partner.

"It's a beautiful box," Cohen said. "It provides object storage, but customers don't have to be worrying about having the right APIs. It's very SMB-oriented. Customers can mix-and-match hard drives. There's no RAID, but uses nodes instead to protect the data. It's as easy to set up as an appliance from Drobo, but has a lot of powerful features Drobo doesn't offer."

Cohen said Virtual Graffiti expects to see a big marketing push now that Hookano has taken the channel reins at Exablox, based on his experience with Barracuda when Hookano was there.

"They're really on the right track," he said. "I just hope and pray they get the marketing right. If they do, they could be as big as EqualLogic."