Storage vendor Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) has formalised and standardised its channel strategy on a global basis, offering for the first time an official accreditation and channel support scheme for its resellers.
HDS first entered channel sales after introducing a mid-range storage device called the Thunder 9200 series in 2001. Now on the verge of releasing an updated model called the Thunder 9500, the success of its ad hoc foray into the reseller channel has motivated the vendor to offer a more structured approach to channel sales.
Previously, HDS' channel strategy varied from country to country. In Australia, channel sales and alliance director Greig Guy had set up a simple two-tiered approach of HDS distributors and VARs (value-added resellers).
Now the vendor has decided; after three months of consultation with partners around the globe; to formalise its channel program. The program will include formal training and accreditation and "is in line with the channel programs of most large vendors," Greig said.
The changes give HDS resellers the opportunity to provide installation and support services around HDS storage products, rather than being limited to purely making the sale and having HDS staff take over from there.
The new channel strategy sees resellers divided into platinum partners, gold partners and authorised sales partners. Platinum partners are asked to have significant storage skills in-house, including three technical and three sales-accredited staff. These staff must already possess skills in selling storage solutions, and have until January 1, 2003 to register and April 1, 2003 to complete the required certification courses to maintain platinum status.
In return, platinum resellers will be able to buy direct from HDS rather than through a distributor, receive more marketing/channel development fund opportunities and have access to a dedicated channel account manager. Guy has already identified several partners that fit the platinum profile, such as Avnet, Alphawest and Frontline.
Gold certified resellers need to have some competencies in the storage arena, but only need to be certified for specific solutions, Greig said. These resellers will complete some basic certification and buy through HDS' distributors (ACA Pacific and Lynx Technologies).
For the remainder of the channel that want to re-sell HDS' mid-range storage products, the vendor offers a final category of "authorised sales partner". These resellers are authorised to sell but not install or support HDS products. Greig said a common example is a provider of niche software that seeks to offer its customers a complete solution without investing in all of the skills required to implement it. These resellers will also source the HDS product through its two authorised distributors.
Training for the certification courses will be provided from the vendor's North Ryde head office. Greig said HDS staff has already provided training in the past for Sun Microsystems staff after Sun announced it would co-brand and re-sell HDS storage products.