Every once in a while a new disruption in the market transforms the traditional methods of business and introduces revolutionary concepts and ideas. One such technology that has piqued the interest of enterprises today is flash storage.
Organisations are increasingly turning to Big Data and cloud storage as the amount of data is escalating by the day. This in turn is driving the adoption of flash and hybrid based storage technologies.
The merits of flash array are well-known, and ranges from better performance and large workload capabilities to more durability and cost-savings when compared to other storage systems.
Ranjith Kaippada, Product Sales Manager, StorIT Distribution, says, “Data centre managers are looking for ways to address the energy drain represented by hard drives and therefore are examining flash storage as a way to achieve green computing or green data centre benchmarks. Flash drives provide amazing performance and only 20 percent of power compared to the SAS and NL SAS Drives.”
Channel partners have an opportunity to assist customers in the transition from conventional hard disks to flash storage. However, they must be equipped with adequate knowledge about the technology in order to seal a customer’s business.
According to Ben Savage, Head of EMEA, Channels and Alliances, Pure Storage, regional partners are receptive to disruptive changes. “Or should we say ‘wave of disruption’ because the transition from mechanical disk to flash in the data centre is best described as a tsunami.”
Although partners are aware of the shifting trends in the market and are scaling up their flash offering, there is still a long way to go, says Tom O’Reilly, CTO, Middle East and Africa, VCE.
“Many IT organisations are still using traditional SAN infrastructure to run their primary business applications, but could realise tremendous benefits in terms of application performance, reliability and security if a move is made to a converged infrastructure solution based on an all-flash array. It is important for partners to be able to articulate the value of flash to their customers in order to take advantage of this opportunity.”
Staying abreast with the latest in the market is one way for partners to familiarise themselves with the value of flash. Attending vendor training programmes and conferences are equally important and they need to invest time here.
Kaippada adds that flash storage compliments the solution selling aspect for partners. “With the traditional HDDs slowly vanishing and dependency on flash increasing, partners will see more openings in green field opportunities. The all-flash array of solutions from vendors are entering the market, which in turn will help partners to leverage their profit and gain incentives from vendors.”
Arun Chandrasekaran, Research Vice President, Gartner, says, “Channel partners must assure delivery of storage services related to flash environments directly or with partners, or miss out on one of the biggest trends in storage services.
“Storage service product managers should evaluate their current portfolios and determine if they are aligned to take advantage of opportunities created through flash implementations.”
There are certain measures partners can undertake to ensure successful sale of flash technologies.
“Channel partners should mitigate product immaturity concerns of customers by partnering with vendors that offer guarantees and/or unconditional warranties that include availability, durability, performance and usable capacity,” Chandrasekaran says. “Also, help customers quantify the ROI on solid state arrays through data reduction simulation tools, power or cooling or space saving analysis and provide migration and implementation services.”
As partners are the link between vendors and customers, they should work towards establishing themselves as customers’ trusted ally. But this is easier said than done.
Kaippada explains that being up-to-date about flash storage technologies gives partners a competitive advantage. He says, “It becomes our responsibility to keep our channel partners conscious of skills to successfully propagate and sell these technology solutions of our vendor partners and their vision. It is important to educate and train our partners on product sales, implementation, systems integration and technical support through reseller partner on-boarding programme.
“It is also important to offer sales and technical skills certifications, go-to-market sales activity plans, customised marketing plans for individual resellers, demand generation activities and cross-selling/up-selling opportunity identification.”
As technologies enhance business applications, organisations will require higher levels of reliability and security. And this is what flash technology can achieve, says O’Reilly. “But when delivered as part of an integrated system there is even more value to the customer and its business. As flash technologies have matured and the price per GB has become competitive compared with traditional solutions, now is the time for partners to evaluate their offering and prioritise the shifting needs of customers.”
Flash storage is a business enabler, and those partners who are quick to understand the advantages of the technology and helps customers gain by examining their individual requirements, stand to make the most wins.