Guest Column | April 23, 2009

Shared Internal Storage A Boon For Solution Providers


Written by: Jacques Baldinger, CEO of Seanodes

Industry research firms are forecasting steep declines on disk storage system spending in 2009 due to the poor economy. But rather than wringing our hands over losing disk storage sales, savvy solution providers are looking to partner with technology vendors developing server and storage virtualization, deduplication and/or compression products, and other unique solutions that allow customers to maximize the capacity they already own.

Shared internal storage offers solution providers an opportunity to add a high-margin product to their portfolio by creating innovative storage solutions that meet customer needs, while also cost justifying past spends. Generally, networked storage technology lets the internal disks of application servers lie unused, and encourages the frequent addition of new hardware with both network storage and disk systems.

With corporate budgets falling, VARs need to deliver the benefits of networked storage without its costs. Reclaiming the large untapped storage capacity embedded in application servers is a good way to achieve without the typical objections, such as complexity and performance bottlenecks, and ones that do not require constant maintenance, which decrease the value of the solution over time.

Shared internal storage can leverage existing resources and help customers avoid expensive external storage. Performance could be drastically improved, and the price-for-performance ratio could be eight to ten times better. With today’s budget constraints it is important to do more with less and any technology that can reduce both implementation and day-to-day management time and costs is a lifeline for IT managers.

Criteria that VARs need to base their recommendation on are:
Is it simple to install and use?
Does it require no specific storage competencies and can it be easily implemented?
Can it be implemented alongside other storage solutions, so that it in no way affects legacy systems?

Users need to be able to combine and use all types of storage devices accessible in block mode. Users should be able to confine less demanding applications, such as backup and archiving, to the external storage the customer already has, which also reduces costs and increases performance. If a new technology can alleviate constraints in an existing infrastructure and work as a complement, it is good way to work, providing investment protection for existing storage and network assets, extending the useful lifecycle of those assets, and maximizing the customer’s ROI.

With customers facing flat budgets but increasing storage capacity needs, there is an important market opportunity for reclaiming bought but unused storage capacity embedded in application servers by turning them into a highly efficient, reliable virtual SAN. Over the last 10 years, traditional storage vendors have invested much time and money insisting that using internal disks is not efficient or cost-effective compared to buying more SAN and NAS external arrays. Your customers may never have considered using their internal disks because until now there haven’t been solutions to use them efficiently. But now that powerful solutions geared toward that very problem exist, it is affordable and efficient to use internal disks intelligently. To help your customers understand this new technology, you simply need to propose one simple question to them: in a time of pinched budgets is it rational to pay a lot of money for something I already own and that will work less efficiently?

History has shown that first-mover resellers who embrace new technologies are the main business beneficiaries and gain a huge competitive advantage based on their intuition and initiative. Enrolling and endorsing technology that adds significant value to end users is the best way to position yourself as a long-term partner to generate the kind of profits that are only made through this kind of relationship.

Solution providers who succeed in this emerging market can bring a real, immediate and exclusive value to the end user and monetize many existing needs now. In addition, showing your customers you understand their budgetary restrictions and showing the cost savings realized by deploying shared internal storage that frees up budget for other deferred needs will make them a long-term and profitable customer of yours.

Jacques Baldinger, CEO at Seanodes, came to that company from NetApp, where for four years he served as managing director, Southern Europe. He also worked at Sun Microsystems, where he held various posts including that of sales director.