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LucidLink Intros First MSP Program For Tech To Make Cloud-based Storage As Fast As On-prem

Because MSPs already account for over 50 percent of LucidLink's revenue, the company thinks it's time to build a program targeting MSPs' specific issues related to making cloud-based storage perform as it is on-premises.

Cloud-native file services technology developer LucidLink this week unveiled its first managed service provider program in response to what the company's top executives called a big increase in MSP interest in building data protection services.

LucidLink works to overcome latency challenges in accessing files over distance with a file streaming service to enable customers to use cloud storage as if it is local storage, said Peter Thompson (pictured left), co-founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based vendor.

"We offer a distributed file system that streams data on-demand," Thompson told CRN. "We keep the files in the cloud, whether it's a public cloud or private cloud, or on-premises. We treat data as object storage on the back end, but make it accessible as file data."

[Related: The 20 Coolest Cloud Storage Vendors Of The 2019 Cloud 100]

With LucidLink Filespaces, large files are broken into smaller chunks, each of which is considered an object, Thompson said. "It presents the data as local data, and streams the bits on-demand to give performance as if it were a local file," he said.

For LucidLink, which sells exclusively via channel partners, at least 50 percent of revenue comes from its MSP partners, who also make up the fastest-growing part of its business, Thompson said.

"MSPs usually take on our technology to do backups to the cloud," he said. "They typically do backups locally, and then send to a cloud, which is not an easy thing. There's a lot of manual labor in there. With our technology, MSPs just set the target, and everything is done automatically. They don't need an [Amazon Web Services] S3 connection, or some device, or complex set-up. It's all done with software and can be offered as a service."

For MSPs, LucidLink Filespaces also includes built-in access controls to let partners set up groups and users with individual access capabilities, he said.

Harald Smit, chief operating officer at Resource One, a Hillsboro, Ore.-based MSP and LucidLink channel partner, told CRN that his company serves a lot of smaller customers and has found the LucidLink technology a good way to avoid them having to purchase more on-premises storage capacity and the related backup and maintenance costs.

"LucidLink is unique in that storage for an application like Office 365 shows as if it's on a physical drive, but is on the cloud," Smit said. "We use LucidLink together with Wasabi so that the storage looks local while it is stored on the cloud at low cost using Wasabi."

One of Resource One's clients is a company which edits 4K videos, which requires high performance, Smit said. "We put 1 TB of data on the cloud, and they can do their editing with their regular tools," he said. "They did it despite a crappy Internet connection."

LucidLink is a small company, but very responsive to partner needs, Smit said, welcoming the rollout of its MSP program.

"LucidLink has something that needs partners to explain to clients," he said. "It's phenomenal how quickly users can access data on the cloud with LucidLink. We're seeing no difference in performance between on-premises capacity or Wasabi-based capacity. I would like to see LucidLink get connected with ConnectWise in the near future."

With the growing importance of the MSP market to LucidLink, the company is now in the process of finalizing its first official MSP program, Thompson said.

Included in the program is a new pricing structure that allows MSPs to consolidate the capacity of multiple customers as a way to improve efficiency and lower overall per-customer costs, he said. The company is also developing a new portal providing such things as new training, he said. Also to come is a referral program which gives incentives to MSPs who refer clients to other MSPs, Thompson said.

"There's a lot of coopetition in the MSP market," he said. "We're looking to codify how they can work together."

Scott Miller (pictured right), LucidLink's director of business development, told CRN that the company's need to develop a formal MSP program in part stems from how MSPs are finding new ways to use its technology.

"We're giving MSPs the ability to offer NAS-as-a-service to do file serving directly to cloud storage," Miller said. "We're not only finding MSPs liking the services, but seeing things they couldn't do before. For instance, it's hard to do files directly from the cloud. That's a game changer. We're letting MSPs avoid NAS systems altogether."

MSPs working with other storage vendors can also bring in LucidLink as an extra service, Miller said. "For instance, if you're a [Baar, Switzerland-based] Veeam or other storage partner, you can add LucidLink to the deployment without changing anything else," he said. "It plugs right in."

For now, LucidLink Filespaces does point-in-time snapshots allowing roll-back to set times for recovery, Thompson said.

Early next year, however, the company plans to offer full replication to multiple cloud vendors and regions, he said. "It will be anywhere-to-anywhere replication," he said.

Julie O'Grady, LucidLink's director of marketing, told CRN that the company has a partnership with Boston-based cloud storage provider Wasabi that makes Wasabi Hot Cloud Storage the default back-end.

However, O'Grady said, partners can also bring their own storage or use Amazon Web Services or any AWS S3-compatible cloud storage on the back end. Azure will be another option MSPs can use by year-end, she said.

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