IN THE HOT SEAT: Quantum backs-up channel strategy

IN THE HOT SEAT: Quantum backs-up channel strategy

Craig Tamlin of backup vendor, Quantum, is passionate about his work even though he says the IT industry does not see the archiving business as being sexy. But he claims increased corporate diligence is giving new impetus to an old market and the channel stands to benefit.

The vendor has had to fight it out with new entrants in its traditional tape arena as well as contemplate a changing market as more and more disk technologies emerge.

Tamlin was an IBM stalwart of 16 years until leaving in 2000 to expand Quantum's fledgling local channel. He was promoted from territory manager 15 months ago to head its local operations.

What is your professional background?

Craig Tamlin (CT): I've been working in the channel for 21 years now. I started out as a programmer at grade nine in high school so I come from a technical background. At IBM I worked on AS400 mini systems. Their success was driven by lots of third-party applications so it really was one of the first channel products of its kind.

How did you get to your current role?

CT: I was headhunted from IBM for the role at a time when Quantum wanted to set up a channel. The company was effectively a startup back then as it only had a couple of distributors. It was a really good opportunity that fitted my expertise as I had worked in the US for a couple of years with IBM in the backup-recovery space. It was exciting trying to break into a fairly well established market against the likes of StorageTek.

What are your main responsibilities?

CT: My focus has been getting into the heads of the channel to identify sales opportunities. We've been working hard to make the channel aware of the low hanging fruit that exists with clients for improved backup-recovery. My responsibilities include business strategy, hosting seminars and events for end-user clients that will create demand that is then fulfilled by our channel. We only have about 20 people in Australia but are 100 per cent channel so we don't really need to be much bigger.

How is Quantum progressing with the aftermath of its Certance merger in terms of reviewing its distribution channel? (Quantum is distributed by Express Data, Digital Tape Solutions and ACA Pacific. Certance distributes through ACA Pacific and Synnex.)

CT: We won't be reviewing the channel at least until the end of March when all the procedural merger work has been done. We will then see how the channel performs when the business is working as one entity.

Will you be undertaking any new channel strategies in the near future?

CT: We continue to offer five free cartridges for every two-drive tape libraries that we sell. We also have telemarketing and other campaigns. These have driven a good deal of channel business for our products.

How can prospective partners benefit from a Quantum relationship?

CT: In terms of our value proposition the thing that resellers find attractive is that we are a 100 per cent channel company. We don't go direct to lucrative accounts like many of the big backup names do.

We are always looking to recruit partners and in lots of different areas because within backup-recovery, our offerings are very broad. They range from a single tape drive that will cost under $500 and upwards to a tape library that could cost $500,000. We can, therefore, attract all types of resellers who have different markets and skill sets.

We are also a specialist original manufacturer of backup hardware solutions. So unlike HP, Sun and IBM - who buy their tape libraries from other people - we make our own.

We also help resellers close deals with our product specific expertise and our exclusive focus in the backup-recovery market.

How do you envisage the debate between tape versus disk media affecting Quantum's channel?

CT: Many people flag tape as being old and slow but that's not true. Our LTO3 model with compression will outperform just about any disk server that you can backup, unless you've got a really high-end SAN. The speed of these tape drives with compression is 120MB per second when most Windows servers would struggle to get 30MB per second.

But we are also the pioneers of backup to disk technology. We introduced the DX range about two-and-a-half years ago. We have had a slow but steady increase since then. Where we're seeing more sales interest is from clients who have tried the serial ATA disk approach with backup software agents that use the file system, and it has failed miserably. Customers have come away disappointed because they expected it to be faster but it was slower.

Which Quantum products will provide good opportunities to the channel this year?

CT: Without question the whole area of regulatory compliance has helped drive attention for back-recovery to senior levels in organisations. We are more than doubling our installed base every six months in the DX disk range. So, for resellers consulting to clients this technology makes a lot of sense.

In terms of career development where would you like to be in five years?

CT: My manager is the Asia-Pacific regional director in Singapore so maybe that is a possibility but we're not an IBM in terms of size and choices for horizontal moves. We are a small and agile organisation but there's lots of exciting work to be still done in Australia.

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