Network Appliance has flagged major channel changes after announcing the availability of two new products.
The first, Data Ontap 7G, is a storage virtualisation engine that allows enterprises to pool and manage storage resources.
The other new release, gFiler, provides a common management infrastructure for disparate storage systems. It has been updated to support the IBM TotalStorage DS4000 and HP Storage Works XP Disk Array families.
While Data Ontap 7G would be available as a free download to current customers, the release would actually see partner margins rise, NetApp A/NZ managing director, Simon Green, claimed.
"Resellers won't make margin from the free download, but it will help them offer customers greater operational efficiency and move them further towards trusted adviser status," he said. "The closer you are to that, the more you can drive up margins."
As demand for storage continues to grow, the effective management of data would offer resellers the greatest opportunity to add value and make money.
"Customers don't want to forklift everything out they have already invested in, so let's not wrestle for the disk," he said. "When you have a machine such as Dell or HP pumping disk into the market the question becomes what value can you associate with the management of the information. That is what we can now put to customers."
To further drive home this value, NetApp was placing greater emphasis on allowing partners to provide specialist services around the products, Green said.
"We are maintaining the core competency in our technology but are looking for partners that have Exchange, Oracle or data warehousing skills," he said. "We will let those partners deliver services on our behalf."
While almost 90 per cent of NetApp sales were direct a year ago, Green estimated they would be split evenly with channel partners by April 2006.
To aid in the shift, NetApp would grow its partner base and launch a new Registered Services Program early next year, according to the storage vendor's global services director for South Asia, Shaun Norris.
The program would be split into three tiers to include rack and stack general services at the bottom; implementation, migration and consolidation in the middle; and application and data services at the top, he said. A partner could be involved in all three tiers or may choose to concentrate on one.