Sometimes The Best Storage Solutions Come In Small Packages
Some VARs are leaving cash on the table by overlooking the option of external storage appliances.
Business Solutions, February 2009
While the external or removable drive is often thought of in terms of the consumer market, Vossoughi says that is because VARs overlook its application in their customers’ installations, leaving potential sales untapped. “VARs tend to dabble in external drives, but many of them still haven’t figured out how to add value with these drives,” says Vossoughi. He suggests notebook computers as an example. Say a VAR sells 100 notebook computers to a small business owner for use by his traveling sales force. “That VAR could position external storage devices as an associative sell, but we aren’t seeing that. We are just seeing missed opportunities,” says Vossoughi.
Learn More About External Storage To Support Additional Sales
Whether VARs are missing the sale because they aren’t aware or because they don’t see the value is unclear. Vossoughi says the assumption of most storage vendors is that VARs are just not aware of the potential. “If they knew how big this market was, they would realize it is worth their time,” he says. “The concept of the external drive is not new, but it is a new opportunity for many VARs, especially as we see reliable, established vendors offering the same performance in this market as in more traditional storage products.” Still, VARs aren’t pushing this obvious fit.
VARs may not be offering external drives because of a lack of information about today’s product offerings. Like many developments in the storage industry, what started as a bulky appliance with limited storage availability has morphed into a myriad of offerings up to and including beefy high-performance options. Today’s external drives range in capacity from 250 GB up to 1.5 TB of storage. Costs for external drives also provide flexibility, ranging from $100 to $400 in most cases. So, from USBs to network attached external drives, the variety of external storage products that can become a value-add option is immense.
The challenge lies in raising awareness — both of VARs that are overlooking the opportunity an external drive may offer and of end users resistant to archiving and backup purchases. “VARs need to learn more about these options and then build awareness with SMB customers,” says Vossoughi. “VARs need to tell their SMB clients that, if they are doing nothing else, they should be backing up to an external drive. Then work with them to move on to a more efficient backup.” For example, it is widely accepted that the SMB market is still resisting complex backup and disaster recovery installations, so that group of customers remains ripe for simple ‘better this than nothing’ solutions. The answer? An external drive. “Look at an insurance office, for example,” says Vossoughi. “They need the backup and the extra storage, and VARs can provide access to that, even if that customer isn’t ready for a full-fledged archiving and disaster recovery installation.” Vossoughi also suggests that VARs consider the opportunity found with customers that consistently upgrade desktop and notebook computers. “Consumers will switch computers every other year, but they don’t like to move their data, and external drives can be used to address that,” he suggests.
The bottom line? As a solutions provider, you can expand the breadth of solutions you are offering by learning more about external drive products and perhaps providing an alternative solution for your SMB clients.