Enterpise storage may well be currently dominated by direct sales at Computer Associates (CA), but growth into smaller markets means it is now eyeing off the channel for its solutions capabilities.
Storage is one of the new key areas of focus for enterprise software vendor CA, which announced a restructure, new direction and new branding initiative this week.
Favouring a new CA moniker, as opposed to the Computer Associates tag it has worn until now, CA is determined to rebrand itself as a market-leading provider of enterprise management software.
The good news is that this involves building a value-added partnering channel. The bad news is that CA only sees need for "between four and six" partners in the high-end space because of the complexity of the skills required.
Mark Milford, senior vice president of CA's storage division, is in Australia this week to help Australian operations increase their intensity of effort on current storage opportunities.
He said storage was one of the six key areas of focus for CA, sharing equal importance with security as being the prime target markets for the vendor's future.
While conceding globally, 80 per cent of CA's storage revenues were achieved through direct sales, Milford also said "the channel is very important for us going forward. We have a very focused go-to-market strategy that definitely involves the channel."
Part of this strategy includes the introduction of a new Certified Storage Providers (CSP) program in Australia, while resellers will also be able to resell CA's developing professional services capability in the storage market.
"As we grow the [storage] business, we will be expanding the percentage of revenue that is attained through indirect channels," Milford said. "Storage is a multi-vendor business, so you need someone to pull all that together.
"We are not in that business. We are in the business of developing great storage management tools and services."
To date, CA's association with the channel in relation to storage products has mainly been through its consumer products, which are distributed through a two-tier model. However, Chris Wilson general manager for CA in Australia, said that storage is increasingly becoming an integral part of enterprise solutions and it needs the channel to access he SME space.
"CA is not going to be able to supply the full solution without the help of partners," Wilson said. "Storage is a technology that transgresses all industries. [CA is] not going after verticals.
"Channel partners will be customising off-the-shelf CA storage products for the use of specific market verticals or individual customers."
Wilson said there is enormous opportunity for the channel to value-add in the storage market, with the services component making up as much as 80 per cent of most sales.
However, Wilson and Milford both conceded there is probably insufficient skills in Australia at present to deal with the complexity and weight of demand for storage solutions. Wilson said he is expecting to sign on between four and six channel partners for its pursuit of the upper-medium sized company space.
CA's direct sales force is still targeting the very large customers, but Wilson says the accreditation program is "complementary".
"[CA's CSP] is a very selective program that includes under 100 partners globally," he said. "There will be less than half a dozen partners in Australia and New Zealand.
"We have introduced the program to boost the level of skills held by our partners. There is opportunity for new players to move up from the basic back-up and store solutions and services being offered by the channel at the momentt but the skills required are complex."
Wilson also said the program would require some investment from the partners who are being accredited. "It requires an investment on both [channel and vendor] sides," he said "In a few years time, hopefully there will be more skills out there to sell the solutions we are developing."
Photograph: CA Australia GM Chris Wilson.