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Becoming a storage partner

Entering into a partner program with a vendor will raise a VARs visibility and credibility. Make sure you have skills and infrastructure necessary to take advantage of the opportunity when it comes along.

What does it take to become a storage partner?
Becoming a storage partner is a fairly complex process that has a number of dependencies on the type of business, size, and type of storage that is involved. In general, to become a storage partners requires several areas to be focused on:

  • Customers. Is there a set of customers whose needs are targeted and understood with the opportunity to sell enough volume to be of interest (and profitable). Selling storage may be part of a larger solution or integration, which is the most common case in the reseller channel; but there may be some that focus on the independent storage sale.

  • People. Are there people on the VARs staff -- both sales and systems people -- that understand storage. They need to be able to understand how storage technology can be applied to address customer needs and be able to articulate that to customers. In addition, there needs to be the expertise to deal with any problems or misunderstandings that inevitably arise and represent the products effectively while ultimately solving the customer problems. Also, the systems people need to have the knowledge and are able to acquire education about new technology and developments in a field that continues to have advancement. These take an investment in both time and travel to acquire knowledge.

  • Financial base. Some VARs or customer circumstances may require inventory to be ready on-hand, and that may need some initial investment to carry those systems.

  • Business models. Besides selling storage systems, there is opportunity for professional or managed services that continues to grow. The business model needs to be built around the needs of customers and the opportunities with special emphasis on training and staffing. The relative expertise in the storage area for many customers is insufficient to effectively deploy and manage systems. This represents a prime opportunity for the reseller.

  • Business relationships. Many storage vendors have a changing set of relationship rules that are frustrating and confusing. It is prudent to have alternatives and to take a long view of the storage business - vendors and products will wax and wane on their capabilities and marketability. Always have a back-up plan when a vendor shifts directions - usually associated with a change in leadership.
This was last published in January 2007

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