Flash storage vendor offering partners 30 point margins

A flash storage vendor based in San Diego, Astute Networks, is looking for Canadian channel partners to help it bring affordable flash storage to the midmarket, and it’s offering aggressive margins for partners to come on board. 

There have been two key issues slowing flash adoption, and preventing channel partners from really trying to bring flash storage to their clients said Len Rosenthal, vice-president of marketing with Astute. The first is price – the perception that flash storage is much more expensive than spinning disk. The second is fear of disruption to the existing data centre infrastructure – flash may be good, but they don’t want to throw their legacy hardware.

These are the issues Astute aims to address with its Visx Performance Storage Appliance family, said Rosenthal. Astute’s assumption is that, for most midmarket customers, 90 per cent of their workloads are running just fine on legacy spinning disk. It’s the other five to 10 per cent that are performance-sensitive apps where flash can make a real difference. They recommend only deploying Visx for those performance-constrained VMs.

“It’s a complement and co-exist strategy as opposed to a rip and replace strategy,” said Rosenthal. “Our strategy is to tell partners to keep selling those products they’ve probably been selling for five to 10 years, and use Visx only in those performance apps. Get the best of both worlds and don’t (upset) relationships with your other vendors.”

Astute sells 100 per cent through the channel and, while it has several U.S.-based partners that sell into Canada, it’s looking to recruit partners North of the border, particularly in Eastern Canada. Currently, Canada is serviced out of Astute’s Boston office. Tech Data and Promark are their primary distributors.

“Our ideal partner is someone who is both storage knowledgeable and virtualization knowledgeable. We’re an iSCSI-based device, so HP LeftHand and Dell EqualLogic partners are frankly the most interesting to us, and EMC and NetApp,” said Rosenthal. “We’re going after regional players that have relationships with midmarket customers.”

Astute has a single tier program, and Rosenthal said any partner selling storage with a VMware certification is a viable partner for them. Partners get 30 per cent off list, and as a smaller company Rosenthal said Astute is very aggressive supporting each partner, sponsoring a marketing event for each partner per quarter at the vendor’s expense. A partner portal has just gone live, and there’s also co-branded web marketing campaigns and inside sales support.

“We’re beginning to do a lot of the core things the larger companies do, but as we’re smaller we’re also more flexible,” said Rosenthal.

This week astute is launching MLC flash-based versions of its Visx storage family. It’s a lower cost version of flash storage, that is more affordable but offers a lower number of lifetime writes. Rosenthal said it’s aimed at businesses with less demanding storage environments that still have a need for performance, and should find resonance in the small and medium-sized business market.

“What is stopping adoption is that most people don’t realize how aggressively flash storage is priced by some vendors,” said Rosenthal.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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