Lan Systems has taken its first steps into the storage market, signing a deal with EMC to distribute the vendor's new range of SMB products.
The partnership will also provide the vendor with the opportunity to make its mark across the lower-end of the storage spectrum.
Lan Systems general manager, Wendy O'Keeffe, said the long-awaited deal with EMC would lay the foundations for a storage practice and present it as a significant market player from day one.
"Lan is serious about its entry into the storage market," she said.
Known as a specialist networking distributor, Lan Systems had spent the last couple of years assessing the Australian storage marketplace and looking for the most appropriate vendor to partner with, O'Keeffe said.
At the same time, EMC had also been looking to bring on a distribution partner to further expand its channel strategy, she said.
"EMC offer a strong set of software products that complement their hardware appliances," O'Keeffe said. "Lan Systems needs to be able to address the software requirements of as many resellers and corporations as possible.
"We acknowledge that it is important Lan Systems goes to the reseller market offering software solutions with minimal technology overlap."
Under the new partnership, Lan Systems will distribute EMC's new range of SMB offerings, including the AX100 disk array and its NAS gateway product, Netwin110. It will also stock the rest of the storage vendor's portfolio, as well as offer pre-sales services to its reseller partners.
Commenting on the new relationship, EMC general manager of partners and alliances, David Henderson, said Lan Systems would be the cornerstone of the vendor's move into the SMB space.
Rather than opt for a distribution partner focused on "stocking them high and shipping them fast", EMC had chosen Lan to be the frontline representative of its push into the SMB market, Henderson said.
"They will be providing technical and sales support for our SMB products," he said. "It's a bit of a change from the normal relationship you'd have with distributors in that Lan will really be acting as a vendor.
"The main concern for most distributors is managing demand, and there's nothing wrong with that. But in storage, there's still a lot of education to be done in the SMB business - we still have an evangelical role to play."
Henderson said Lan Systems had made a huge resources commitment to EMC's storage business. The distributor's 20 sales staff had successfully completed its sales training course. Technical staff were now undertaking product training, he said.
"We're seeing more distributors act as value-added distributors and going into the end-user's environment as the representative of their partner," Henderson said.
As proof of its belief in the value of the channel, the two products designed specifically for SMB would only be available through distribution, he said.
As well as working with EMC, Lan would aim to build up a suite of complementary storage technologies from leading vendors, O'Keeffe said.
While hesitant to speculate on what proportion of the business would become storage, O'Keeffe said it expected the division would represent a significant part of its overall sales in the next 12-24 months.
The distributor has established a specific storage team to coordinate storage efforts across all of its business teams and introduced a partner program for resellers wanting to develop up their skills around EMC's storage portfolio.
It is now seeking up to 30 resellers for the storage business. These partners would be a mix of national storage specialists and smaller integrators, O'Keeffe said, catering to the tier two marketplace.