If there's been any question mark left hanging over StorageTek's channel strategy then Dave Templeton is out to address it. He's been handed the job of redesigning the vendor's channel and a new product to test it out on.
His voice might have been hoarse from spruiking the vendor's wares at SAN World in Sydney yesterday, but Templeton's vision is resolute: bigger deals, involving more of StorageTek's product range, greater direct account ownership, but more fulfilment through the channel.
Templeton has been promoted from marketing manager to national distribution manager responsible for OEM, direct-to-VAR and distributor channels. His appointment coincides with that of former Cisco executive Philip Belcher as managing director following Martin Hall's recent departure.
The cornerstone of Templeton's charter is to ramp up the company's sale of its disk products in line with a "solutions" sell, rather than being branded as a tape vendor. According to Templeton, it's a challenge that will require a re-think of what types of channel partners it uses, and what compensation or margin structure they will receive as a result.
This will see the introduction of a new program in which the channel participates under the same rules as StorageTek's direct staff. In essence, Templeton said the program will eliminate geographic fighting over customer accounts through a compensation model that rewards all participants in a sale, including channel partners, distributors and StorageTek direct sales representatives, based on their level of involvement.
The new look channel will also provide incentives for partners to commit to selling StorageTek's disk products. This will be based on a "disk quota" in the "low millions" of dollars which direct resellers and distributors must reach to maintain their status as a Silver, Gold or Platinum Partner, Templeton said.
Meanwhile StorageTek has been actively recruiting channel partners including resellers Boise Technology and ACA Pacific, which join Alstom IT as StorageTek distributors. Negotiations with Ingram Micro are yet to be finalised since Ingram acquired Simms International's storage unit, which formerly distributed StorageTek products. However, Templeton was unreserved in his opinion that the market would probably not support three distributors and that "it's up to them to put a business case in front of me, that makes sense".
The litmus test of StorageTek's refocused channel model could prove to come from its latest disk product formally released today. The D173 is an entry-level open systems disk subsystem that Templeton describes as "a channel product".
With a scalable capacity of over 5 terabytes, the D173 provides SMEs, remote users and departmental-level customers a migration path up to StorageTek's bulkier D9170 and D9176 subsystems. Pricing begins at $60,000.