EMC’s Sillence said with the trends including Cloud, Big Data, and BYOD reshaping the industry, there’s enormous opportunity for channel partners.
“With massive disruption, which is going on in our industry right now, comes massive opportunity.”
Customers don’t buy storage and then consider what workloads they are going to deploy – instead they buy a storage platform to meet the needs of their application workloads.
“The criteria for selecting a given technology can largely be simplified into two key ‘continuums.’ One has performance at one end and capacity at the other. This generally leads to a discussion around $/IO versus $/GB. The other continuum relates to the service level required, with continuous availability at one end and traditional backup and archive at the other. Somewhere in between those two extremes you would have traditional Snap technology and continuous data protection. Once an application has been plotted on those two axes, it is much easier to map the requirements to a specific technology and can enable an informed discussion about the suitability of on premise or off premise provisioning,” he said.
“Where our channel partners have a tremendous opportunity in the storage space is to facilitate this workload centric conversation with customers. Help them to understand the characteristics of their application and make an appropriate choice about the storage technology that best suits their need. The reality is that off-premise is not always a good solution and neither is a “one-size-fi ts-all” storage platform. A best-of-breed approach, matched to specifi c objectives, will always be a better technology choice. Our channel partners are really well placed to elevate the discussion beyond the storage platform and take an application workload centric view of the customer’s landscape.”
Additionally, he said partners need to get up-close-and-personal with customers and position this skill as a key differentiator.
“The resellers that are going to make a difference in our industry are the ones who are getting really, really close to their customers to understand what their customers need. Customers are faced with this massive amount of disruption and they don’t quite know how to deal with it; they don’t quite know what technologies they need, what Cloud platforms they need and it’s a real bit of a mess for them and they’ve got to try and pull this thing together. That’s one area where our resellers can really have an impact in our industry.”
Certainly, there’s a golden opportunity (and responsibility) for partners to educate customers about an appropriate storage strategy and how and when a Cloud approach makes sense, added Infront Systems’ King. He said there is a tendency to jump into the game without full knowledge, unaware of the repercussions.
“In Australia, customers are quite willing to just launch into a Cloud conversation without really understanding the risks or having any backstop when it comes to expertise in the market.”
More importantly, the partner needs to take a level headed and responsible approach – and help customers sift through the hype.
“Fail to plan/plan to fail. It’s a classic scenario, but so many people are just caught up in the hype. And I love Cloud. I think Cloud has enormous potential where it has enormous potential, same as I love all fl ash array where all fl ash array makes sense. And I love hyper – I don’t care what the technology is as long is it’s the right fit. But we are caught up in this model of ‘just because it’s new, it’s got to be better.’”
Complicating matters is the lack of storage skills at the partner level, added Fusion Systems (part of Distribution Central), technical manager, ANZ, Richard Denyer.
“The traditional ‘pet’ that we’ve been talking about was always designed to scale upwards. To make it go faster you’ve made the box bigger. You put more memory in it. You put more storage behind it. The thing with all hyper scale systems is they’re all designed to scale horizontally. So it’s very diffi cult for someone just to take an application and put it in the Cloud,” Denyer said.
“This is where most resellers don’t have the skills because most of those applications are designed by either large consulting organisations or an application developer and typically that’s not the role of the reseller. The reseller doesn’t actually have the skills to do that. So what ends up happening is people put workloads in the Cloud, they move their ‘pets’ to the Cloud and then all of a sudden they get this bill shock because hyper scalers are all designed to be horizontal scale. When you’re not using it, you turn it off. If you leave something running in the Cloud 24/7, you’re not going to get any economies of scale.”
Skills remain a top challenge, but Thomas Duryea Consulting CEO, Andrew Thomas, said partners can fi nd success by providing clients with a business discussion (and deliver on outcomes) in addition to the technology conversation. He has re-engineered his business to help take customers on the Cloud journey.
“Help them understand their workloads now and the options they’ve got. We show them there are many new ways to analyse workloads and requirements. Often that isn’t just the technology level - we’ve also built out a consultant advisory practice that allows us to move on behalf of IT outside of IT so that we’re talking to a business about the true business requirements. IT enjoys that because it gives them a mechanism to marry what they’re doing to the business.”