Few companies have set reseller goals as ambitious as Network Appliance, which revealed today plans to start selling its SMB-targeted StoreVault network storage devices in Canada.
So certain is the company of the demand for the product – and so far it only has one model – it aims to have 50 channel partners signed three months from now, and 150 by this time next year.
“It’s a nice opportunity (for resellers) to make money and get into storage in an easy way,” says Sajai Krishnan, general manager of the StoreVault division.
Launched 10 months ago in the U.S., StoreVault’s S500 is the NetApp’s first appliance that costs less than US$6,000. The line, which will add a lower-priced model near the end of the year, is aimed at companies with less than 1,000 employees needing iSCSI or Fibre Channel-based network attached storage.
Krishnan’s confidence is based partly on the interest he says the company got from VARs here when StoreVault was launched last year, and partly on the soaring demand for storage.
Sold only through the channel, StoreVault will be distributed here by Tech Data Canada, which will help the vendor select partners.
While the approximately 50 NetApp VARs here will be eligible to be among them, Krishnan said they’ll have to prove they have an SMB focus. Typically, he said, NetApp partners aim at enterprise-sized organizations.
“Unless the reseller has a business model that can serve a smaller business, understand their needs and make money serving them they would not be a fit for StoreVault,” he said.
Only 15 per cent of the U.S. NetApp partners qualified to carry StoreVault, he said.
Although StoreVault is more of a volume product than a NetApp system, said Krishnan, “we will be selective (in chosing partners) because we want folks who can add value to the customer.”
“We think they’ve got a winner,” said Ray Gonsalves, Tech Data Canada’s director of product marketing.
However, he isn’t sure StoreVault can have 50 certified partners here in the next three months. It would be more likely to have that many by the end of the year, he said.
The distributor will emphasize the StoreVault line offers opportunities for IT virtualization, compliance strategies and business resiliance. “Those are the key opportunites end users are willing to spend on,” he said.
John Sloan, an industry analyst with Info-Tech Research of London, Ont., said StoreVault’s competitors include Hewlett-Packard’s recently introduced its StorageWorks All-In-One network storage system, EMC’s Clariion AX 150line (also sold through Dell) and Snap Appliances SnapServer.
“The market for this kind of product is huge,” he said, although it is not familiar with Ethernet-based networked storage.
But it helps that Microsoft has added iSCSI support in its Windows Storage Server 2003 Release 2.
“I think the StoreVault has a strong value proposition for the smaller Canadian companies,” he said. It meets several key criteria we see for SMB purchases – good price, full featured but easier to manage.”
Krishnan almost apologized for taking so long to come north, saying the division wanted to be here soon after it launched. However, NetApp treats new branches as startups and wanted to go slow, he said. Also, while Tech Data is the American distributor there are enough differences with the systems of its Canadian division that it couldn’t open operations here quickly.
StoreVault has a two-tier channel partner program, one Krishnan said was designed to be relatively simple.
Premier partners have to sell at least US$150,000 a year of product, have at least one staffer who has taken technical training on the devices and carry a demonstration unit. In exchange they’ll get sales leads from the company.
Approved partners have no minimum sales requirement, although at least one person must take a company sales training course.
Marketing development funds will be available to both levels, but will be approved individually on a proposal basis.
The company believes 20 per cent of partners will be Premier.
Krishnan said margins can range up to 30 per cent.
All StoreVault models will run what Krishnan said is an identical version of the Ontap operating system used by Network Appliance’s enterprise line, although the functions have been simplified for easier operation by the less experienced IT staff in small companies.
The S500 is a 2U-high, rack mountable unit that can hold up to 12 SATA hard drives, RAID-4 and RAID-DP support and dual redundant hot-swapable power supplies. It includes iSCSI support, which can be upgraded to Fibre Channel by buying a kit that includes a switch.
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