Herve Tardy, vice president and GM of global distributed products for Eaton Corp. in the Americas, doesn’t think the products he represents are sexy. Eaton manufactures Uninterruptible Power Supply or UPS that you might see next to a desktop PC but largely for data centres.
“Power is not a sexy category,” he told CDN. It might not be sexy, but power is important because without it the data centre is off.
According to Dunn & Bradstreet, 59 per cent of Fortune 500 companies experience a minimum of 1.6 hours of downtime per week. Assuming an average staff of 10,000 employees who are paid an average of $56 per hour (including benefits), the downtime loss in labour alone for a Fortune 500 firm would be more than $896,000 per week — or more than $46 million annually.
In Canada, power disruptions come from various sources such as severe storms to a hungry rodent who lunched on a power line in B.C. last year that not only sparked an outage but a fire as well.
Nearly two million people and businesses across Canada were impacted by a power outage last year, according to the annual BlackOut Tracker report.
The BlackOut Tracker found power outages in all the provinces and territories representing an 88 per cent increase from the previous year’s tally.
Tardy is trying to augment the value proposition of power not just from an overall market perception, but for customers and channel partners.
Eaton has had a track record of innovation with power for virtualization, converged infrastructure solutions and now hyper converged. The company has entered into agreements with Nutanix and Simplivity to provide a fully-integrated solution right out of the box. This solution has been also validated by Nutanix and Simplivity.
“We spent 18 months trying to convince them that we can add to their solution because power is not part of Nutanix or Simplivity’s core DNA,” Tardy said.
Umesh Patel, the Canadian GM of Eaton Power Quality, said another factor for better power management is for environmental sustainability. “There is a greater attention being paid to this today and our value proposition is tied to that,” he said.
But Eaton has not stopped there. The company has over the years given away its software to incent more hardware sales. Tardy told CDN that company has put a stop to that. Going forward software will be positioned by Eaton as a part of its value proposition and its market differentiation.
Eaton’s Intelligent Power Management software features remote monitoring that can manage multiple devices across a network from a single user interface. The software can also suspend non-critical virtual machines, consolidate them or shut down unused servers. It can initiate a graceful shutdown procedure in the event of an extended outage and set server power consumption limits that can stretch out a battery’s runtime.
The Intelligent Power Management system automates disaster avoidance with a planned migration application, such as VMware Site Recovery Manager and Microsoft Live Migration.
“We are going to put our focus on software and customers are interested in this value. We have increased the price of the software for two reasons: to justify the value and for customer to evaluate it,” he said.
Eaton found that customers were unwilling to test drive the software because it was a free product. Channel partners also did not want to push the software because it was free.
For the channel, Eaton is offering 50 per cent margins on software. The listed price is $10,000 that will go on top of the UPS sale. With that solution providers can also offer installation and tune up services. After one year, Tardy has found that end users tend to add more virtual machines and those will not typically be connected to power management and are unprotected.
This leads to opportunities for the solution provider to sell concurrent software services on a re-occurring revenue basis.
Jodi Bonham, channel manager at Eaton Canada along with a board member of the Canadian Channel Cheifs Council, said she is seeing the Canadian channel building more small to mid-size data centres that include remote management as well as disaster recovery. “That kind of control and management can be offered through the solutions of the intelligent power management software package that we have re-crafted with a re-occurring revenue stream for solution providers,” she said.
Another important change for Eaton is its push to attract more managed services providers (MSP) in the channel. Tardy said it’s where the market is going. He believes there will be less resellers who are solely focused on the hardware resale as they are turning into MSPs. “We have to change as a vendor and adapt to the re-occurring revenue model because it’s the future,” he added.
Tardy is also dedicating more resources towards lifecycle management where a customer can predict when they have to replace the power supply and get them more advanced notification. This too can be a channel opportunity as part of a solution provider’s tune up services.