Respond to customers' storage buying habits

Act on your customers storage buying habits. Contributor Jerome Wendt offers three key takeaways from a recent Storage magazine purchasing intentions survey.

As users buy more storage capacity with the money that they do spend, being more receptive to technologies like iSCSI while still questioning the value proposition of storage management software, here are some thoughts on how VARs and systems integrators like yourself should act on this information.

1. Users are more educated than they were just a few years ago on how storage works, so you should play to sensitive areas. The survey did uncover that large companies were more concerned about support, and small and midsize businesses were more sensitive to price, so vendors should construct their bids to reflect those concerns.

2. As iSCSI gains acceptance and momentum among end users, you should add the appropriate products and skill sets to your portfolio. Expect high initial interest from small and midsize businesses. However, this interest will trickle up to larger enterprises over the next two years as they look for a low cost way to connect their Windows and Linux farms with a storage area network (SAN). Also keep in mind that while iSCSI costs less up front, the same management challenges you'd find with Fibre Channel SANs -- LUN security, data migration and performance tuning -- remain.

3. Recognize that an opportunity to sell storage management and reporting tools to users exists -- if you offer the right product at the right price. For instance, you may want to consider TeraCloud's TSF Lite, which allows either you or your client to measure storage environments with up to 20 TBs of storage for $395 per month. whether you use it only once or over an ongoing basis.

An additional service TeraCloud offers is the ability to pipe the information back to TeraCloud, so the vendor can then produce a set of analytic reports complete with measurements against best practices based on the facts you feed them. A tool like this allows you to offer your clients the ability to perform a low-risk, low-cost assessment of their storage environment.

End-user appetites for storage are only increasing. However, periods of belt tightening or panic will surely come as users realize their storage infrastructures are growing out of control. Whether you're standing by to watch it happen or you're called upon to help bail them out, introducing the right combination of storage products, SAN infrastructure and storage software can go a long way in preventing this scenario or helping customers handle it when it does.


Storage Buying Guide

 Part 1: What are your customers buying?
 Part 2: Increased SATA hard drive adoption
 Part 3: Hard drive replacement
 Part 4: Production iSCSI SAN interest rises
 Part 5: Less data storage management spending
 Part 6: Respond to customers' storage buying habits

About the author: Jerome Wendt is an independent writer and analyst specializing in the field of open systems storage and storage area networks. He has managed storage for small and large organizations in this capacity.

This was first published in December 2006

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