In a recent blog post, analyst George Crump, who frequently contributes to , gave some advice to new suppliers putting together a presentation for prospective customers or investors. It seems many vendors focus on the wrong things, or don’t focus at all. Since many of the same issues exist in value-added reseller training meetings for salespeople, I’d like to offer some advice to vendors when bringing new products to their VARs. Feel free to send this open letter along to the vendors you do business with, especially the ones with lousy sales training.
When planning reseller training programs for salespeople, assume that the audience really is salespeople, most of whom have not sold your product before. This would be one of those trainings aimed at the 80% of your VAR salespeople who do 20% of your business. The salespeople who sell the other 80% are probably skipping this meeting anyway. Continued »
MAID as a technology has been around for an eternity, at least in storage years. But Copan, which introduced it in 2002, really had a hard time getting any lasting traction. VARs, too, had some trouble selling it, as Moore’s Law kept driving the costs down before ROI numbers could be realized. Copan may have drawn its last breath — but MAID, or massive array of idle disks, certainly isn’t dead. Continued »
Don MacVittie, strategic architect and blogger for F5 Networks, brought up a good point in a recent blog post that I think VARs would be interested in. He commented on the use of the term “ILM” in a Storage Switzerland article, “What is File Virtualization?” He said:
“The other thing that made me a throw up a little in the back of my throat was his use of the dread phrase “ILM” (information lifecycle management). I shudder when our marketing organization uses [the term ILM, because it] had such a huge hype curve that it was doomed to fail …” Continued »
Greg Schulz, in an FAQ on SearchStorage.com, “Tools and techniques for reducing your enterprise data storage footprint,” does a good job illustrating an important point that storage VARs can use. He goes into the definition of “footprint” as it applies to storage systems and how it’s far more than just floor tiles or rack space. Other “footprint” components are basically the finite resources required to efficiently operate a given infrastructure, from capital expenditures, like hardware and software, to operational expenditures, like licensing, maintenance and staffing. I’d probably add “expertise” to this list as well, since complex systems have an experience cost, such as training for the junior people or time from the senior people — or both.
What’s the point? Continued »
We’ve got an elephant in the room that needs to be discussed. It’s called old data. Old, or inactive, data is choking storage systems, networks and backup systems — even with dedupe in place (see “Dedupe: Square peg for round hole?” for a discussion of the problem dedupe doesn’t really solve). By inactive, I mean data that’s not really used but can’t be deleted; either it’s got a clear value, or IT just can’t get the data owners to take responsibility for deleting it (or they can’t be found). This results in new storage getting put in to handle immediate capacity needs, but nobody’s talking about how to “retire” it — and the cycle continues. Continued »
It seems like in every product briefing we attend these days, the manufacturer says they’re interested in the SMB/SME market — meaning they’re avoiding larger enterprises. A lot of companies are targeting new products at organizations that are smaller than the Fortune 100/500, but their avoidance of the enterprise is ill-advised. Continued »
CommVault says that it’s making changes to two key components of its channel partner program in response to partner feedback. First, says Mark Conley, the company’s director of North American channels, it’s tweaking its margins to improve profitability for smaller VARs. Second, it’s modifying its sales accreditation program. Continued »
Cloud storage is a topic that’s generating a lot of discussions within the storage community, as companies look for ways to manage data growth, save money, save time, etc. The problems IT people have are pretty familiar, but frankly, cloud storage isn’t a silver bullet for those problems. Some customers are putting some data in the cloud, but they’re really just sticking their toes in the water.
So if cloud storage isn’t exactly a “killer app” (yet), what can the cloud do for VARs? Continued »
Ctera Networks this week announced its distribution deal with Interwork Technologies, a value-added distributor for security services. Interwork is adding Ctera’s Cloud-Attached Storage devices to its S-Sphere suite of managed security services. S-Sphere includes products from a number of other vendors.
There’s no shortage of talk around cloud storage. Vendors and customers alike seem to enjoy speculating on what “the cloud” means to the future of storage — and maybe to their futures as well. In theory, cloud storage could be described as a movement toward some technical ideals that have been around for a long time, such as storage that’s infinitely scalable, immediate, cost-effective, paid for as it’s used, delivered online, always optimized (no tuning, balancing, etc.), purchased as a service rather than an asset and managed by a provider rather than an organization’s own staff. Most descriptions also include the benefits of an enterprise-level infrastructure — including the security, support and processes that usually accompany the “big iron” — that’s available to smaller users.
In practice, cloud storage products that end users buy (and VARs sell) are all over the map. IT organizations can buy the services (storage capacity) themselves from a cloud storage provider, or software to set up a cloud on their own hardware, or the hardware to run a cloud on — or the whole thing as a turnkey solution.
While there are many interpretations of the cloud, instead of getting wrapped around the axle about what the cloud is and how it may eventually replace data storage as we now know it, you should talk about what parts of the technology have benefits that people can enjoy now. More important to a VAR than the definition of cloud storage, per se, is what you can get out of a cloud storage discussion. In practice, most end users aren’t really buying a lot of cloud storage — at least not yet. But users are intrigued by the benefits that cloud storage might enable and are interested in seeing these features in the products they do buy.
Rather than looking for opportunities to sell “storage in the cloud,” for now look for ways to leverage the interest users have in these concepts. For example, show customers outsourced solutions where users pay a fee for a service instead of buying and running a box. Or, bring in storage solutions that can make the infrastructure scalable, feature-rich and more economical. How about solutions that can optimize resource allocation and enable users to fully utilize assets and reduce cost? In the next post we’ll look at some examples of technologies that deliver the purported benefits of the cloud and that you can show customers.
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