One of the biggest challenges facing organisations of any size is how to manage
the ever increasing volume of structured and unstructured data. Here we explore what three distributors are doing to help resellers address the data storage market and secure an additional revenue stream
Beta has been a leading player in the storage sector for many years, supplying LTO high capacity, single reel tape storage solutions. Marketing Director Nigel Morris argues that dealers who already engage with IT Managers could be missing an opportunity if they are not also selling storage solutions, as almost every customer they speak to will have a need to store data.
It’s a new area for print resellers and many might feel they don’t have the knowledge to talk storage with IT Managers, but it’s no different to selling consumables or other standalone products. All a dealer needs to do is ask the question ‘How do you back-up?’ and their customer will know exactly what
they want,” he said.
“For dealers used to selling MPS solutions, the solutions-led sales cycle and process are similar. It’s not a major step-change and could positively impact the bottom line.”
Morris added: “LTO is a great starting point. In the same vein as VHS was, LTO is an open format, licensed by some of the most prominent names in the storage industry to ensure a broad range of compatible tape drives and cartridges.”
He concedes that emerging technologies are disrupting the storage market and that, at first glance, it can look complex, with a wide choice of internal and external storage systems, flash, software defined storage and most recently cloud storage. But adds that this is where Beta can make a difference.
“Once a dealer has made that first approach to their customer and identified that they do store data but need a more in-depth solution, it’s time to talk to us,” he said. “We have a vendor portfolio to meet all requirements within the data storage market. Over and above that, we offer dealers the service, support and expertise to help them enter this space.”
Beta’s Technology Solutions Division provides pre-and post-sales support, from project scoping, including determining and documenting project goals, deliverables, costs and deadlines, through to first line technical support post-sale.
In addition, it can provide a number of value-added services to a dealer’s customers, such as HDD data recovery and on-site disk data eradication and degaussing to render inaccessible all data stored on disk drives and servo tracks from hard disk drives. Other services include extended warranty options; on-site installation, maintenance and training; and an on-site tape recovery and restore service for extracting and recovering customers’ valuable data should the tape storage media fail.
Exertis also sees great opportunities for resellers – as long as they set their sights on the right target.
Pete I’Bel, General Manager Server and Storage at Exertis, said: “Enterprise storage is hard to define, but we’re really talking about storage that’s used for mission-critical data/information. For some companies this could be just 100GB; for others, hundreds of Terabytes, or even Petabytes.”
Within the SMB and mid-market, he identifies a customer/vendor/market ‘sweet spot’ of 5TB-200TB. “Above this, we view as high-end enterprise, which becomes even more bespoke and consultative, with more specialist/niche VARs and a greater prevalence of vendors,” he explained.
In pricing terms, the sweet spot is in the range of £3K – £200K. “At this level we are looking at relatively mainstream solutions (within the context of enterprise storage), based around one of a few architectures – Storage Area Network Arrays (SAN), High end Network Attached Storage (NAS), Software Defined Storage (SDS) and Direct Attach (JBODs),” explained l’Bel.
He adds that these solutions can be bought as pre-defined bundles or customised to bespoke customer needs quite easily.
Exertis can help resellers select the right type of storage for each customer’s needs (SAN/ NAS/ DAS/ SDS etc.), and can train partners on how these topologies work if they are looking to upskill in this area. It can provide hands-on demonstrations of equipment and help with technical enablement at either the reseller or end-user level.
“As we have a specialist team focused on selling enterprise server and storage solutions, we can take the time to sell consultatively with partners rather than to partners and end-users,” explained I’Bel. “By understanding exactly what the business driver is for needing/buying storage, identifying multiple options with the relevant advantages and disadvantages, we can help drive an informed decision.
“This process builds a lot of value into the sale. It drives a ‘what’s the best solution within budget’ mentality. Best might be cheapest, best might be fastest, best might be most scalable, best might be longest warranty. The ‘best’ solution relies upon understanding each and every customer and opportunity, rather than ‘what’s the cheapest possible outcome’ or ‘what do Amazon have on special this week?’. This is exactly where we help the customer.”
He added: “We also help partners understand and uncover the wider opportunity, as looking at storage requirements in isolation can lead to disappointed customers. If a customer is looking at shared storage, can their existing infrastructure cope with it? Do the switches have the required bandwidth? Do the UPSs have the spare capacity? Do the racks have the space? Do the servers have the correct connectivity? Does the back-up and DR have the scalability? As a solutions team, we will help partners ensure their customers have all angles covered and aren’t solving one problem by creating another.”
Exertis offers solutions from multiple partners including Dell, the world’s largest manufacturer of iSCSI storage; Fujitsu, one of the only mainstream server vendors to offer resellers guaranteed rebate on all sales; DataCore, the world record holder for SDS performance; StorMagic, innovators of high availability solutions without the need for shared storage; and Huawei, one of the market’s most cost-effective flash storage providers.
That said, l’Bel makes the point that the choice of vendor is very much a secondary consideration. “Once we understand what, how, why, when and where storage is required, we can offer the best solution to fit the needs. Going in with preconceived technologies, vendors or products often doesn’t produce the best result,” he said.
L’Bel adds that dealers can talk to Exertis about the storage solutions it offers or meet with one of the company’s Technical Consultants and see the solutions in action in its Enterprise Demo suite.
VOW says it is addressing the needs of resellers new to data storage with a number of educational initiatives.
The wholesaler’s main catalogue, for example, includes a USB capacity chart, which helps resellers specify the optimum size of storage device for each customer’s individual needs. The catalogue also has detailed information on how to choose memory cards, which helps end-users as well as resellers identify the correct type of card, class and capacity for their device, be that a laptop, digital camera, smartphone or tablet.
Stuart Bleese, Category Manager – EOS & Technology, says the information includes details on the importance of protecting your data to avoid a potential security breach/data loss and a guide to FIPS classification. “Further guidance is available on choosing the right SSD and how to install it; how to choose optical media (CD/DVD); and how to choose data tapes, such as LTO, and why they are crucial for ensuring a suitable back-up system is in place,” he said.
Additionally, several of our storage suppliers, including Verbatim, Integral and Kingston, work closely with our resellers. They will visit their premises to deliver product training and offer marketing and technical support in the form of promotions and funding to help resellers raise awareness of the brands among their customers. Most of our direct storage suppliers also work with our resellers on price to secure sales opportunities and will offer bid support on volume deals that resellers can then pass across to their customers.”
Bleese added: “We also have a living knowledge resource in the form of our VOW to Guide that explores technology subject matters in depth to offer guidance and expert viewpoints. This is a resource specifically put together for our resellers and we always welcome suggestions on topics they want us to cover in more detail.”