The Storage Market, Reaffirmed
New research shows a widespread demand for storage solutions. VARs and integrators can no longer afford to ignore this customer need.
A good message is often worth repeating. I've written numerous articles in the last few years about the huge potential for VARs and integrators in the mass storage market*. And, I continue to be bombarded by market data that supports this opinion. Just take a look at some of these recent forecasts:
- The worldwide market for disk storage is predicted to surpass $53 billion by 2004 (International Data Corporation [IDC]).
- Sales of storage management software are targeted to reach $15.2 billion worldwide in 2006 (Gartner).
- More than $13 billion is predicted for U.S. spending on storage services in 2005 (IDC).
Perhaps the most eye-opening forecast by analysts is that for every IT dollar budgeted in the next few years, 50 to 75 cents will be spent on storage solutions. The growing need for storage is a direct result of a worldwide data explosion. A University of California, Berkley, and EMC study found that it took 300,000 years to accumulate 12 exabytes of data. (Twelve exabytes equals 12,000,000,000,000,000,000.) Now, it will only require two and a half years to generate the same amount. How can this be?
According to Randy Kerns, senior partner at the research firm Storage Evaluator Group, Inc., companies continue to store more data and applications on the network and servers. Add to this equation the storage required for Web sites and e-commerce. Kerns also says companies are finding it difficult to migrate or delete information. Enter the opportunity for storage products and VARs and integrators supplying solutions that overcome these challenges.
Storage Channel Not Too Crowded
A cynic might contend that there are already plenty of storage integrators providing these solutions. Business Solutions features these companies every issue. (Check out Allied Computer Group, a $26 million integrator who is combining storage area networks [SANs] and network attached storage [NAS] solutions in vertical markets.) But most of these integrators have focused on larger end users in data-intensive markets like financial and communications. Storage has horizontal appeal. It's needed in all markets by all businesses of all sizes. There's still room left for more channel players.
Even though your channel business may focus on another technology, storage can complement your product offerings for customers. According to Bob Zimmerman, Giga vice president of research, channel partners who provide customers with application software are the first to predict the need for expanded storage to handle growing data requirements. VARs and integrators supplying networks or servers also have a good look into a customer's enterprise and the basic skill set to start supplying storage.
New Offering For The Channel
Arrow Enterprise Storage Solutions (AESS) of Englewood, CO, is banking heavily on more channel companies adopting storage. The storage distributor is hoping to entice VARs and integrators who buy other products from them to sell storage. AESS has hired 45 storage specialists to assist the channel and is opening storage labs throughout the country. For a fee, VARs and integrators can use the labs to test and demonstrate customer solutions. The distributor is also offering VARs and integrators discounts on the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) Storage Networking Certification Program offered by Infinity I/O. Efforts like these are needed in the channel. The opportunity in storage is undeniable, but this is still a complex technology for VARs and integrators to adopt.