By James E. Gaskin
Egnyte Inc., which launched its “file server in the cloud” service when it opened in 2006, last year moved to a “hybrid cloud file server” model to meet the demands of a changing market. Now, responding to the needs of the channel, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company has created a formal reseller program, announced March 1, 2011.
“The channel has been forming on its own,” says Filip Kesler, vice president of business development and channels. “We didn’t have a real program, but resellers kept coming to us. In January alone we signed up about 120 new partners, and the number has been growing month by month.”
Although created as a pure cloud-based service, Egnyte moved to the hybrid cloud model a year ago when it partnered with San Jose, Calif.-based Netgear Inc. to add Egnyte software to Netgear’s NAS appliances. Netgear’s “local cloud” hardware enables Egnyte to store copies of files locally for users, including file versions and all access control rights, so they can access their files even if they lose their Internet connection.
“Some companies need that local file presence,” says Kesler. Netgear units supported include the NVX and Pro systems as well as the 4200 rack-mounted NAS appliances for higher storage capacities. The same local cloud support software is also available to run in VMware, allowing customers to use the hardware platform of their choice.
Because of the range of local hardware choices, “deals have grown bigger,” says Kesler. “We have a large number of multi-100 seat customers and a few 1,000-seat installations. However, most customers are still in the 10- to 20-seat range.”
Doing on-premise hardware installations was one of the driving forces for starting the channel program, according to Kesler. “Every customer who asks for something specific gets passed on to a channel partner.” He admits the lead pipeline is currently a trickle, but says, “When customers ask for someone to provide them a NAS and install it, those are high-quality leads.”
Egnyte’s channel partners pay no fee to sign up, and the discount starts at 15 percent and goes up with volume. There are no certification programs in place, but there are “plenty of training videos and webinars” to help resellers master the product line.
Kesler emphasizes that the local component of Egnyte’s hardware program eliminates a serious issue he has seen with cloud-only service offerings. “Our channel partners don’t have to watch their backs like [they would] with pure cloud solution vendors that can bypass them and go direct to the customer.” Egnyte provides recurring revenue to the reseller as long as the reseller and customer stay with Egnyte.
A Web portal lets resellers manage their customers. There are no reseller provisioning costs, and Egnyte offers multiple options for product customization so the storage offering can be branded. If desired, resellers can hide the Egnyte logo almost entirely from their customers, and provide their own first-tier support. In addition to enabling customers to access files absent the Internet, Egnyte offers mobile data access from smartphones.
One trend that seems to be gaining traction, according to Kesler, is “deployments in a multilab environment, such as a company with offices in both New York and Los Angeles. The reseller puts a NAS box in each office, and Egnyte is the central server that synchronizes data across both offices.” Kesler also notes that the majority of Egnyte’s 500 or so resellers have signed up two or more customers.
Updates planned include installing Egnyte software on all Netgear NAS appliances, partnering with other NAS vendors, and expanding to work with other virtual machine vendors. Customers with Microsoft servers can integrate Egnyte’s security with Active Directory or LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol), but there are no plans to add Egnyte’s software to Windows servers. “In those cases, we use VMware to integrate with the server,” says Kesler.
For more information on partnering with Egnyte, go to www.egnyte.com/resellers.