Storage surge

The SMB storage sector is growing and resellers are quickly realising the importance of being part of the expanding SMB segment

Tags: Emitac GroupTandberg Data (www.tandbergdata.com)Western Digital Corporation
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Storage surge
By  Clayton Vallabhan Published  December 30, 2012

The SMB storage sector is growing and resellers are quickly realising the importance of being part of the expanding SMB segment. The SMB sector as a whole is poised to witness increased growth in the near future as vendors continue to innovate and come out with products that deliver ROI to small and medium enterprises.

The SMB storage market in the Middle East has continued to grow, with vendors increasing their focus in this segment. For many resellers, this is a sector that offers good margins, but at the same time one in which increased training is paramount to effective sales and success.

Competition is growing and it is necessary for the channel to effectively select the right storage solutions that SMBs in the market are seeking for their businesses.

Khwaja Saifuddin, senior sales director, India, Middle East, Africa and Turkey, WD said: “The channel has a healthy appetite for SMB-focused storage solutions thanks to the increasing number of new businesses setting up shop in the region. This segment is also generally quite active thanks to the introduction of new products by vendors and the need for established SMBs to either replace an aging storage solution or upgrade their existing storage systems so that it keeps pace with their growth. This sector of the channel is more demanding than the consumer segment owing to a need for quality pre- and post-sales support but it is also rewarding because a satisfied customer will result in repeat business in the future.”

Carlos Tannous, business unit head, Value Add Division at Emitac Distribution, said the SMB storage channel is definitely growing, but it has a long way to go. Tannous said when one looks at the attach rate between servers and storage boxes sold in the SMB channel, one quickly realises that it is one of the few market segments with the highest attach rates.

Andrew Martin, vice president, Asia-Pacific, Japan and Middle East at Tandberg Data, agreed and said the SMB channel is witnessing a lot of growth and resellers are entering the market to service the increasing demand of storage solutions. “We are seeing SMB companies look for more complex technical solutions as IT becomes more fundamental to their day-to-day business,” Martin said.

Industry pundit advise that solutions being offered in the market have to match the needs of SMB clients and channel partners  need to understand that, it is necessary to engage with their clients before recommended the best storage solution to them. Pundits point out that most vendors provide the Middle East channel with various products tailored at SMB market.

Tannous said HP has a range of storage solutions designed to help SMBs to meet their storage needs. “The all new HP StoreEasy Storage platform makes managing file and application storage very easy. New HP StoreVirtual models deliver the flexibility that SMBs need to adapt to the demands that virtualisation brings to IT environments. HP’s LeftHand operating system and StoreVirtual Storage are both optimised for SMBs and remote office environments, providing multiple hypervisors and physical deployment options, software support for all server types, and high-availability across multiple locations.”

Saifuddin said at WD, the company is pushing the Sentinel DX4000, an ideal offering for any SMB’s storage requirements. “The Sentinel is ideal for organisations with up to 25 employees as it offers built-in remote access so employees can connect to the server from external locations. It boasts enterprise class hard drives and can be configured with up to 16TB of storage capacity, and runs Windows Storage Server 2008 R2,” he said.

At Tandberg data, the company is promoting RDX technology, and is looking to provide solutions that are tried and tested. “We are pushing RDX Quickstor and Quickstation bundled with backup software to ensure that SMBs get a total data protection solution that delivers software and hardware with reconfigured suggested implementations for out of the box data protection,” Martin said.

With the flurry of solutions entering the SMB storage sphere, experts say that training is crucial for any resellers looking to strengthen its credentials in this sought-after market segment in the region.

According to research and analyst firm Gartner, the SMB market represents 44% of the total IT spend worldwide. SMBs will spend $874 billion worldwide in IT in 2012 and by 2015, Gartner predicts that the SMB market will cross the trillion-dollar mark in IT spend. Although many SMBs have experienced budget limitations over the past few years, Gartner says that 42% of small businesses expect IT budgets to increase by the end of this year.

“Midsized businesses will favour IT solutions that are designed with resource constraints in mind, have flexible sourcing and deployment options, and are easy and affordable to purchase and support post-sales,” said Jim Browning, VP and research director for Small and Midsize Business at Gartner. He added: “The biggest challenge they face is that they don’t have enough internal IT people and skills.”

Tannous said Emitac is pro-actively engaging the channel by helping custom design solutions for their end-user clients. “We have here two scenarios, if a partner is an HP preferred partner, then they are definitely on track through attending the HP education programmes like ExpertOne the HP global next generation certified professional programme,” he explained. “If not an HP partner, then the sales force of the partner should be able to identify storage opportunities and as Emitac Distribution we will help them closing the deal by designing the right solution and if needed by meeting the end-user client. We are training our channel on how to identify these opportunities.”

Martin said partners need to invest time in understanding the functions of products along with spending time to learn how to integrate the various types of storage hardware with various software offerings. By skilling up on integration, partners can offer the real value that SMBs are looking for WD’s Saiffudin stressed the need for proper training. He said for a partner to experience success now and in the future it’s vital that they invest in properly training their staff on not only the products being sold, but also on storage concepts and best practices in the market.

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