“It’s a different business model based around more reliable and consistent revenue,” Patterson qualifies.
For James Kennedy-Moffat, Sales Director, NetApp, the services avenue opens doors previously slammed shut by an old-school approach.
“One thing leads to another,” Kennedy-Moffat says. “Once resellers start understanding one end of the business, and the adjacencies, they have the knowledge to begin growing the organisation and understanding it more.
“Here lies an opportunity for partners to consume the business they are serving and to become a trusted advisor within it.”
Ten years ago, Andrew Diamond, Director of Storage and Data Management, Dell, remembers a time when customers walked into an IT shop and saved 20 percent on storage solutions. End of conversation.
Today however, if a partner talks to a customer they can add more value to the entire business, rather than just providing a small saving on a small piece of the jigsaw.
But with this new approach, as Murphy points out, comes reseller risk.
“The risk has shifted,” he adds. “Now customers want to consume a service but want partners to run that risk. They consume on a monthly basis and turn it off on a monthly basis.”
“But if you take more of the risk,” questions Kennedy-Moffat, “won’t you take more of the reward?’
Citing Dimension Data as an example, Kennedy-Moffat accepts that while the customer could have bought storage up front without any problems, by consuming it as a service, partners now have the opportunity to make more money.
Delving deeper into the make-up of the new-look storage partner, Prowse believes the New Zealand market is waiting for specialised partners to take the lead, through partnering with vertical specialists.
“There’s a huge amount of value in companies having a true understanding of finance, insurance or whatever the vertical might be,” he adds. “Take insurance as an example, there’s not a lot of consultancy firms outside of the Big Four that understand the industry inside and out, and how it operates.
“While it can be difficult for a reseller to gain vertical experience in New Zealand, there’s an opportunity to look at businesses and how they work, recognise the IP and the role of storage and begin to formulate ideas relevant to specific verticals.
“If a reseller can approach an insurance firm and say, ‘Hey, we could take your customer database and do this…’ - that’s value.”
Take Dell, EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and NetApp as examples - are huge tech giants specialists within certain industry sectors?
“No is the honest answer,” Prowse adds. “We have knowledge but the sheer depth of knowledge required is far greater, and this represents a niche opportunity to specialise.
“If I was a reseller, I’d be the the guy they come to and that’ll always be the key point.
“The better performing partners in New Zealand have those relationships and know what they are doing within specific verticals.
“Because if a reseller is that glue, it’s going to be difficult to remove them from the equation because no other competitor will have the same IP, connections and understanding.”
Moving away from simply selling widgets, in New Zealand, Arnold believes senior leaders can “wrap their arms around the entire country, understand it and manage it” - allowing partners to be braver because of the market size.
“Generically speaking, as a vendor we understand technology and what’s happening around the world, and we’re bitterly trying to innovate and bring businesses to the future,” Arnold adds.
“Hopefully we’re all building products that are open, flexible and don’t lock customers in, and that’s the role of the vendor in theory.
“For resellers however, they can add value by understanding specific verticals or geographic locations and recognising customer requirements, before linking back to the vendor.”
But as Taylor points it, the future path of storage is creating complexities for partners up and down the country - who struggle to assess where the market is heading and the areas of opportunity.
“Most partners are working from a three to five year outlook,” he adds. “But things are changing and disruption keeps happening so by the time you reach three years from now, the market will have changed and the offering you provide must be flexible to accommodate this.”
Across New Zealand, IT professionals are no longer spending 10-20 years at the same organisation, they’re spending 3-6 years and instead, floating around the local market.
“The job of the reseller is to keep track of the movements and know who builds what and where they are now,” Patterson adds. “New Zealand is perfect for this and it’s another way of resellers pulling together a team of experts to solve a customer problem.”
But as vendors across the board continue to wax lyrical about the reseller of the future, and the recipe for success, flipping the conversation entirely - what does the channel need to prosper?
“From a partner perspective,” Waite adds. “If I approach a storage vendor to buy storage, I’ll operate to deliver that service for three to five years.
“But in 18 months my customer will no doubt want to change with the market and I’ll encounter a legacy platform that I have to run for another few years minimum.
“It’s about getting the balance right when it coms to phasing out technology and looking at the next greatest thing, which is why flexibility is key.
“One of our biggest challenges centres around the cost of decommissioning storage. It never gets talked about. Everything is great when a partner purchase technology and everything is great during its lifespan, but the real challenge lies in getting off the technology afterwards.
“For CCL, when we take on storage we know how and when it is going to be disposed and the whole lifecycle of the product. The channel has to be smarter about that.”