3X’s backup appliance designed for channel opportunity

With its “cloud-in-a-box” appliance solution on the market for just over one year now, 3X Systems is looking to penetrate the Canadian market and is seeking Canadian partners looking for SMB-focused backup solutions.

Based in Columbus, Ohio, 3X’s flagship product is the 3X Remote Backup Appliance (RBA), an automated backup solution optimized for the small and medium-sized business (SMB) market. Alan Arman, CEO and founder of 3X, said the current capacity of the data backup appliance solution is 1TB, but that will increase to 2TB within a few months and 6TB within three-to-six months.

Essentially, said Armen, RBA is optimized remote backup. The first backup is initially done onsite, as the seed backup can happen more quickly over the local LAN. Then, with an agent installed on each PC to be backed-up, the appliance can be taken offsite to another location, such as a data centre, a remote office or, with many small businesses, the owner’s home. The appliance is plugged into an Internet broadband connection and future backups are done remotely over the Internet.

“The agent uses our locator service to find the box, and it sends the changes in data very efficiently over the Internet,” said Armen. “Every time the backup runs we get a full snapshot of the source data, based on a rule-set defined by the administrator, and moved offsite.”

All the administrative functions can be access through a web-based interface, and are centralized to allow the administrator to apply policy changes to client systems all at once, also ensuring end-users are unable to change their backup policies themselves.

There are two levels of security within the RBA product, said Armen. The first relates to the administration, with the log-on and management done using SSL 128-bit encryption. When data is transmitted to the appliance it is done in SSL, and the administrator also has the option of encrypting the backup data on the appliance as well.

The offering is available exclusively through the channel, and Armen said there’s a number of channel models that can be employed. For smaller businesses with 20GB or so of data to backup and without their own IT staff, a reseller can purchase a box and use a multi-tenancy model, selling backup services to their smaller clients.

The sweet-spot is clients with 150GB of data or more. If they went to a hosted model that charges by the GB it could quickly get pricy, so owning their own appliance makes good sense.

Rocky White, director of marketing for 3X, said the vendor has developed a channel program and is committed to a channel-centric model, but has only recently begun to focus on partner recruitment.

“What the partners really get excited about is that it’s a single appliance. They don’t need to have another box onsite,” said White. “It’s truly a single solution for the SMB.”

Partners can either resell the box or build a managed service offering around it, as well as offering setup and support, such as assisting with the initial backup and configuration.

The 3X partner program has three tiers. Authorized is the entry level and consists mainly of smaller IT providers and doesn’t require much of a commitment. Premier is the mid-tier more active partners doing typically between $75,000 to $200,000 of business with 3X. Finally, Elite partners will typically be regional or national partners, those doing business in multiple geographies.

Margins range from 18 per cent for authorized partners, capping-out at 38 per cent for partners at the Elite level.

In addition to online training resources, support and best practices, at the Premier and Elite levels 3X offers the traditional co-op programs but also goes a step further, offering more marketing support for partners from day one.

“The problem with traditional co-op is that it’s after the fact so we do two things more: co-marketing development funds where we’ll partner with our partners on a matching-dollar basis to do marketing activities to help them get started, and turnkey marketing programs where we’ll do the copy-writing and marketing work for partners that don’t have the resources and time, and let them buy into campaigns based on geography,” said White.

Today, 3X has a limited channel presence in Canada with six to 10 active partners, but White said they’re looking to grow that number.

“We’re not looking to sign-up every partner we can, we have limited resources and marketing dollars, and our philosophy is more quality over quantity,” said White. We’re really looking for resellers than want to be true partners.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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