Q&A: Vendors Of Tape
Representatives from four prominent tape vendors answer questions about tape libraries.
1. What should VARs look for when selecting a tape library vendor?
ADIC, Bill Britts: VARs should look for a vendor that offers a broad range of products and technologies, allowing them to satisfy the widest range of end user needs. They should also look for a product line that includes a high level of integrated diagnostics and self-management.
Overland Data, Robert Scroop: It is very important to select a vendor who has good product breadth. In the workgroup space, the vendor should be able to address backup requirements with autoloaders and minilibraries. The vendor should also have expertise in the enterprise space with true multi-terabyte library solutions. VARs should also look for vendors that emphasize education, since many VAR sales representatives and system engineers have little experience in selling tape automation.
Quantum, Robert Pickell: VARs should look for vendors committed to a long-term partnership. Vendors must understand the VAR's business model and be dedicated to developing an approach to the channel that contributes to the ongoing viability of that model. VARs should also ask the vendor tough questions to evaluate whether the vendor offers a complete approach to the channel.
StorageTek, Pete Koliopoulos: VARs should look for a vendor whose products provide the greatest flexibility, scalability, and choice in technologies (i.e. ability to support multiple operating systems and to integrate various drive technologies).
2. What is the most common mistake you see VARs making with tape libraries?
ADIC, Bill Britts: Most VARs are knowledgeable about libraries in general. But library support for SAN (storage area network) environments has been advancing recently, and most VARs need to update their knowledge in that area. Newer libraries include technology that works in the SAN environment and increases the performance and reliability of backup in SANs. They also include capacity-on-demand pricing models that allow VARs to sell new capacity without having to do a physical library upgrade.
Overland Data, Robert Scroop: The most common oversight we have seen is that VARs do not ask for the tape library business from their customers, resulting in lost gross margin. Tape is too often an afterthought. Whether the VAR is selling server solutions or primary storage solutions, they should always ask about tape backup.
Quantum, Robert Pickell: One of the biggest mistakes VARs make relative to tape libraries is not recognizing the extent of the opportunity in this storage segment. In the Tape Library Outlook 2002 from Freeman Reports, Robert Abraham reports that the tape library market actually grew in unit volume in 2001. This fact is phenomenal considering the overall state of IT in 2001. Abraham projects double-digit unit growth in 2002. Furthermore, a study completed by Mark O'Donnell and Janet Waxman at IDC late last year showed that tape library margins remain among the highest of any hardware segment. VARs who recognize this market opportunity and take advantage of it will be afforded a sustainable revenue stream.
StorageTek, Pete Koliopoulos: The most common mistake is that VARs may decide on a particular tape library and base their decision on price alone. VARs must remember to take into account other factors such as investment protection for their end users.
3. What can a VAR be doing now to ensure its share in the tape library market in the future?
ADIC, Bill Britts: The best thing VARs can do to increase future library business is to differentiate themselves from the system OEMs by focusing on software, systems knowledge, and SAN expertise. The best way of doing this is to pick a library partner that is committed to building libraries that include advanced management and systems solutions.
Overland Data, Robert Scroop: To ensure that today's tape backup customers keep coming back, VARs should sell modular, scalable tape libraries. Modular, scalable tape libraries give the end user what they want - capacity and performance. When the customer needs more of both, they will return to the VAR.
Quantum, Robert Pickell: VARs should be building the organizational capabilities to effectively deliver comprehensive tape automation solutions, as well as selecting a vendor that is dedicated to a long-term partnership with VARs. The tape library market continues to be robust in terms of product sales and VAR margins. VARs committed to this space have a unique opportunity to carve out and dominate a critical piece of the storage market.
StorageTek, Pete Koliopoulos: The most significant step a VAR can take to help ensure its share in the market is to sell value, scalability, and flexibility to the end user - not just point products. There are also new markets opening up to tape libraries, such as rich media, special archiving, broadcast, and video surveillance. Fibre Channel interfaces and flexibility in drive technologies are also hot areas. VARs should keep up with these technologies and target the new markets.