Bringing High-End Storage To The Channel
Storage distributors Ingram Micro and GE Access simplify SAN installations for VARs and resellers.
When talking to VARs about SANs (storage area networks), the biggest complaint I hear is that VARs are locked out of the market. Resellers are simply not able to capitalize on the opportunities that exist in the SAN market because the technology is changing so fast, interoperability problems are still plaguing the industry, and/or the cost of these systems is simply too high. But there is good news. Distributors now want VARs involved in the SAN market, and they are working to bring that high-end storage into the channel.
Lori Snow, VP of product management and GM of the technical products division at Ingram Micro, told us the high-end storage market is still seeing growth, and there are many horizontal and vertical markets that now require SAN solutions. She believes that makes for great margin opportunities for VARs. "Ingram Micro brings VARs solutions that have already been tested and configured," she said. "VARs receive products with a competitive price offering and which we then follow up with support."
Ingram's latest offering is a SAN solution that features backup software from VERITAS, host bus adapters and switches from QLogic, and a tape library and Fibre Channel bridge from Overland Data. "Our technical team does extensive testing and puts together best-of-breed models for our VARs," said Snow. "We also offer solutions that were pre-tested by other companies and organizations. We want our VARs to have pre-tested configurations and product sets that can be positioned into particular markets based on price, capacity, or scalability."
Complementing Products With Service
In addition to the SAN solutions offered by Ingram Micro, Snow noted that her company has technical support specifically focused on the high-end storage market. "We have 20 technicians focused on storage, and eight of them are focused on the high-end storage space," she said. "They are the front line support for our customers. They can make recommendations and put together multi-vendor solutions based on the customer's need. The VAR does not have to go to several different manufacturers to find out what will work. Ingram Micro does that for them."
GE Access is a company with a similar game plan. The company has been heavily involved in storage since 1999. Mike Koprowski, manager of enterprise solutions storage practice, stated his company realized early on that VARs had varying levels of expertise and were selling into different types and sizes of companies. So GE Access created a program called the Alliance Point Methodology. This program provided a framework for VARs based on their expertise. "If a VAR had little or no storage expertise, we would help them assess the customer need, develop an architecture, and identify the key components of that architecture," said Koprowski. "We would help the VAR build and test the solution, and also provide them with opportunities to generate additional revenue by maintaining that solution."
Getting Best-Of-Breed Solutions Faster
GE Access also has storage professionals on hand to assist VARs with their needs. Storage experts staff the Advanced Solutions Development Center, located in Littleton, CO. "They can help develop a custom solution based on a specific customer need," said Koprowski. "They also architect and test specific SAN solutions. This will greatly increase the speed to market, because the solutions are already designed and tested. GE Access also employs a best-of-breed approach that involves products from VERITAS, Sun, StorageTek, Legato, Hitachi, Brocade, ADIC, and JNI. "We believe we have a real strong portfolio of vendors that we work with. They can solve any problem that the VAR might be up against."
At this stage of the game, education seems to be the key. Networked storage remains relatively new. With the mystery that still surrounds SANs, getting VARs up to speed on the solutions will better enable them to sell the solutions to their customers. Distributors will play a major role in educating the channel and providing VARs with pre-tested solutions that work.Questions about this article? E-mail the author at EdM@corrypub.com.