Artisan Infrastructure, which promotes IaaS to channel partners, is preparing to counter Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ: AMZN), and is also building out a new OEM and ISV business unit, Talkin' Cloud has learned.

The new cloud storage service will have a free public beta during Q1 2013, in a bid to unite the channel against Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3), Google Cloud Drive, Rackspace Cloud Files, Microsoft Sky Drive, and other rival options.

According to Artisan CEO Brian Hierholzer, "This solution is ideal for providers that are looking to build their own data backup service as well as their own File, Synch and Share solutions leveraging third-party vendors like Anchor, Mezeo, Ctera, Vembu's SyncBlaze, Own Cloud, StorageXraft and so on." 

Getting Started (For Free)

During the free public beta, customers will be able to use unlimited amounts of storage while trialing their cloud back up/file synch share solutions.

"Currently we are working with several vendors to provide free trial licenses for their solutions that are compatible with the Artisan Infrastructure cloud storage service," said Hierholzer. "After the free trial period, which may last several months, the pricing is expected to be dramatically less expensive than the existing public cloud providers."

Also of note: The Artisan Infrastructure solution will have an S3 API interface so any software solution compatible with AWS S3 will be compatible the Artisan Infrastructure cloud storage service, he added.

The final sale price per GB will not exceed $.03 per GB stored, he indicated.

Of course: Competing against Amazon's cloud pricing is not for the faint of heart. Amazon has cut cloud prices more than 20 times since launching AWS. But Hierholzer is counting on his 100 percent channel focus to win the day for Artisan Infrastructure.

Reinforcements Arrive

Artisan also is staffing up as it pursues more channel partners. Specifically, the company has named Mark Spowart as VP and GM of Artisan's newly formed OEM and ISV business unit.

Noted Hierholzer in a preared statement: "With Mark Spowart’s extensive channel sales, product development, and ISV vendor background, we will expand our business by bringing this proven business model to the channel VAR’s of our OEM and ISV partners." Prior to joining Artisan Infrastructure, Spowart was CEO and co-founder of Zadara Storage, the enterprise storage as a service company. 

Pure Channel. Forever

Hierholzer and I have corresponded for a year or two about the Artisan business. Each time I ask him point blank: Are you still 100 percent pure channel?

His latest reply remains consitent with earlier statements: "We are 100% wholesale only. Only VARs, service providers, etc. We do ZERO business with retail clients. Never have. Never will."

How will the strategy -- especially against Amazon -- play out? Talkin' Cloud is watching.