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Variel Technology meets SMB needs with IP storage

Channel professionals seeking new business opportunities would do well to realize the needs of underserved small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), as Variel Technology has done with its IP storage offerings.

Kicking off our SearchStorageChannel.com profiles series, we recently had an exchange with Ali Asvadi, president of the Irvine, Calif.-based Variel Technology. He shares with us reasons for founding the privately-held storage networking company, typical customer dilemmas and solutions, and some challenges that go hand in hand with being an IP storage solutions provider.

What was the impetus behind founding Variel Technology?
The company was formed in response to a clear void in meeting the needs of underserved SMBs searching for simple, affordable and reliable high-capacity networked storage with limited choices that were either too complex, too expensive or both.

Prior to forming the company, during 2002, Variel Technology founders were among the few early adopters of an emerging technology that would allow for the creation of networked storage and pave the way for major changes in the storage infrastructure market; it could ultimately create significant new opportunities to supply businesses with cost-effective networked storage solutions. Enter iSCSI storage protocol. What solutions does Variel Technology provide today?
Variel Technology develops innovative and high-performance IP storage systems that help enterprises accelerate the adoption of networked storage, simplify IT infrastructure and realize the economic benefits of industry-standard solutions. What are some typical customer dilemmas?
Every prospective customer has a unique storage pain point. Typical customer sites may have four or more application servers and 50 or more users. Most have been living with their captive DAS (direct-attached storage) devices, which are usually protected via internal RAID technology serving email, database or other needs. They want advise on how to break out of this cycle and roll out a more effective and long-range networked storage strategy. What's the number one storage challenge your customers face?
Email servers are probably the number one storage challenge, gaining the attention of IT organizations to implement something other than DAS. There are also those that find their tape backup windows unacceptable and thus choose an iSCSI-based storage to provide for disk-to-disk and then tape backup. What are your most popular solutions and why?
We offer a range of IP storage solutions from entry level, a pure iSCSI target that offers a vast array of protected space, to multi-gigabit and even 10 Gb iSCSI with offload, application consistent snapshots and more. We take a consultative approach in dealing with our prospects to learn more their needs so the most appropriate solution can be recommended. What solutions are your customers demanding for future releases?
Customers would like to see cost-effective solutions that are open in terms of flexibility and scalability, that support their existing environments. We are now seeing more interest in RAID-6 as well as a desire to adopt 10 Gb copper when prices are more at their spending levels. Who is the ideal customer to take advantage of iSCSI?
iSCSI is such flexible technology that most organizations find it ideal for many of their business applications. Industries that take advantage of IP-based SANs range from small CPA firms to manufacturing, entertainment and non-profit companies, and more.

Obviously, iSCSI may not be appropriate for everyone. But most business, with a little bit of effort to learn and understand the benefits of IP-based storage can quickly realize whether it is the right solution for their needs or not. How did you determine your solution set?
It is all a matter of taking the time to act in a consultative role with the prospect. Once we learn about their pain points, their environment and the reason they have come to us, we can begin to guide them properly. Usually, it is a good practice to make sure their post-sales support needs are covered, unless they are a very savvy IT group and can be self-sufficient. What do you look for in new storage vendors to work with?
We look for vendors that offer a rich feature-set, flexibility, financial strengths and willingness to listen to their partners for advice and contribution toward a mutually successful relationship. What are the greatest challenges you face as an IP SAN solution provider?
Making sure the person on the other side is fully aware of the technology. It is an ongoing educational process that requires being able to separate facts from fiction so the end-user or channel partner is at ease with the strengths and weaknesses of the technology, and ultimately makes the right decision with regard to the offerings.

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