Quantum buys Benchmark

Quantum buys Benchmark

Quantum Asia-Pacific will pad out its professional services arm to be more like its US counterpart, having identified a shortage of skilled partners to guide customers through the fog surrounding storage, recovery and backup.

Simon Harvey, managing director of Quantum's Asia-Pacific storage solutions group, said the company does not intend to challenge its existing integration partners in offering services.

"We don't really see it as a revenue-raising activity because we do have a channel model," he said. However, Harvey admitted that "there is not an over-abundance of really skilled integration partners in the market".

"There is enormous confusion in the storage market. We've got to get to the 80 per cent of businesses that don't know where to go or what's available."

The current announcement, coupled with the offloading of its manufacturing process to Jabil Circuit earlier this month, marks Quantum's intention to climb further up the storage food chain.

"We're moving to the top end of the value chain - the design phase rather than pumping out hundreds and thousands of widgets and gadgets," said Alex Tan, Asia-Pacific general manager of sales and marketing.

With most other storage vendors undertaking similar outsourcing arrangements, Tan said allowing Jabil to squeeze margin out of the supply chain was the only logical decision lest Quantum "get caught with a high-cost product when the margins are falling".

The move will allow Quantum to dedicate more resources to education, of both partners and customers, and R&D.

Harvey said education is the biggest concern for Quantum at the moment. "It's what we lose sleep over. Quantum is being asked more and more to work with other vendors as customers struggle to get their whole system working together and to automate as much of the process as possible."

The result of this holistic take on things is less of a focus on the physical product, the actual tape drive or library, and more emphasis on the solution and knowing how it all fits together. "The goal for Quantum is to educate dealers on how to do this," said Harvey.

Meanwhile, Tan said demand for tape is on the rise, with DLT overtaking LTO thanks to the confidence instilled by the former's strong roadmap. He said Hewlett-Packard has just completed training 200 sales staff in storage, an encouraging sign considering the vendor doesn't proactively push tape products. "If their business is picking up - if they're seeing more demand for libraries - that's a good barometer for the market."

The announcement to beef up its professional services arm was made at the same time as the purchase of US-based Benchmark Storage Innovations for $US11 million plus shares. The acquisition will add three products to the top end of Quantum's range. Of particular interest to Quantum is Benchmark's autoloader technology.

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