Gridstore Formalizes Partner Push for Cloud Storage MSPs

Gridstore, which makes an SMB-focused network attached storage product, has launched a formal channel effort as MSPs push its offering in new directions. Indeed, the company recently provided details on its Gridstore Partner Program, which offers MSPs and VARs deal registration, market development funding, and professional services. As for the latter, Gridstore provide pre-sales and implementation support to help partners land their first two deals.

Kelly Murphy, Gridstore’s chief executive officer, said the company is starting to fill out its channel organization. He noted the appointment of Lanie Kruger as Gridstore’s vice president of marketing and channel development. Kruger was formerly vice president of business development and channel sales/marketing at RELDATA, which specializes in unified block and file storage products.

Gridstore takes a grid approach to NAS, virtualizing devices so they appear as a single storage pool. Customers grow storage capacity by adding additional storage nodes to the pool. The company’s NASg storage nodes are 1U devices that run on Windows 7 embedded. Pricing starts at $499 for a 1 T storage node and $599 for 2 T. Murphy said the company aims to fill the gap between standalone NAS devices and enterprise storage systems that typically lie beyond the budget and skill sets of SMB customers.

Gridstore began shipping NASg version 1.0 in January 2010. In November of that year, Murphy discussed plans to develop an MSP channel, noting the company’s work with about 10 service providers.

The company has continued to grow its partner roster, bringing on board 10 additional partners since the release of NASg 2.0 in March 2011.

Cloud Storage

Over the last couple of months, four MSPs have started using NASg to offer cloud-based services such as disaster recovery, Murphy noted. NASg originally was built as an on-premise storage product that MSPs could remotely manage. But the newer version of NASg also lets MSPs deploy the product as a multi-tenant storage grid. A single storage pool can support multiple customers, with the data segregated.

The cost of enterprise storage can gut the profitability of services, Murphy said. MSPs, often themselves small businesses, face a large up-front investment in technology and must acquire the expertise to run high-end systems, he noted. The argument for NASg is that it comes at a lower price point than enterprise-class systems, but offers comparable capabilities. Murphy also pointed to NASg’s low power consumption and heat output, which reduces operating costs.

In summary, Gridstore offers MSPs both a traditional managed services play and the means to create a storage cloud. The company’s business model appears intuitive enough. That said, companies with seemingly promising storage models have hit hard times. Cirtas Systems, for example, cut staff earlier this year amid a move to retool its cloud storage appliance, according to GigaOM.

Cirtas launched its product only last September. The company planned to sell exclusively through the channel.

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