Storage vendors may well be keen to talk up the opportunities for enterprise channels in selling storage and back-up solutions, but the truth of the matter is there are very few VARs with the capability of facilitating the big money deals.
Veritas Software is a classic example. Mark Handley, general manager of channels at Veritas, claimed it has 10 VARs of which "only six" are "decent, good ones". He also said there is no great desire to expand that number.
"I don't see our [enterprise] channel expanding much," Handley said. "It is important that we have capable partners and we will be looking at adding more as new niches arise."One of Veritas' star performers at the moment is a relatively new face in the market, Digital Storage, a company which sales director, David Solsky, said has only been around for 18 months. It was formed by merging vast network and mainframe experience from two integration companies.
Solsky agreed there are few resellers with the required expertise and skills to cater to the emerging high-end enterprise solutions side of the storage boom.
He doesn't think the low number of resellers is holding back adoption rates for enterprise solutions, but suspects demand may outstrip supply in the new financial year.
"Customers are still in the financial year where they had to deal with Y2K and GST compliance," Solsky said. "They were a big drain on their IT spending, but that should change in July."Solsky explained that it costs $100,000 minimum just to put the basic infrastructure in place for a future-proof, scalable solution.
"A truly enterprise-wide solution is a very large investment," he said. "The interest level is high - the propensity to take out the cheque book is low."The complexities of dealing with customised high-end storage solutions creates a resources drain on vendors, which would explain their preference for a low number of channel partners.
"If they don't have the skills, they are a drain on resources, which is why vendors are keen to nurture existing players that understand their solutions," concluded Solsky.
Veritas' Handley concurs. "The low-hanging fruit is currently in the enterprise back-up space," he said of current storage opportunities. "But the problem is, who has the skills to deal with all this?"We have a few traditional resellers stepping up to become true value adders and digital storage is a classic vehicle for them to do that, but you need the skills."Handley said that there is no need for expanded channels. "Most of the storage integrators are proposing Veritas solutions when the big tenders come up."Veritas has a 100 per cent channel model in Australia, with 50 per cent of revenues obtained from distribution through its two-tier structure and the other half a fairly even split between OEM and enterprise solution sales.
Handley considered the best future opportunities for Veritas and its channel partners would be in "niche development" and "high availability, clustering solutions" as well as database/application integration solutions. Both opportunities are catering to enterprise e-business initiatives, where the high-dollar-value and profitable sales are for both vendor and reseller.
In the much more volume-based "distribution" channels, such as commodity sales handled by Tech Pacific, Agate Technology, ACA Pacific and Express Data, Veritas claims its reseller base could be up to 4000-strong.