There are some critical storage issues in 2007 that VARs must be prepared to tackle in meeting customer needs. These issues could be considered a continuation of past events, but with a more critical sense of urgency.
Meeting regulatory requirements is an absolute must for businesses. Many have been putting off making operational changes and acquiring compliant products, but the time for delays has run out. Customers need guidance to take the steps necessary to meeting regulatory requirements. As a VAR you must be able to provide the necessary consultations. Regulatory compliance requirements vary greatly across vertical markets, so understanding what the requirements are and how they apply to different customers will require some specific education. Putting effort into getting trained will then allow you to provide some much-needed assistance in meeting the regulatory requirements.
Your training should involve an understanding of the different storage products and software with regulatory compliant features. You'll find a limited set of these products. Before recommending one to a customer, you must consider how the product meets some requirements but not others, as well as its operational characteristics. Matching the solution with the customer circumstance is not simple at this point; it requires education and experience. It would be valuable for you to work with vendors to better understand product characteristics.
Storage capacity demand
Another major 2007 storage priority will be to address the ever-growing demand for capacity. In the past customers just bought additional storage systems, but they've begun to realize that the administrative costs and backup efforts required to maintain all that storage have become unmanageable. Research companies report that the administrative costs are seven times the acquisition costs of storage. In addition, customers are simply running out of time to back up the data on these storage systems. You'll have an opportunity to help customers address this ongoing problem.
One very positive development is the use of active archiving systems where data is moved from primary storage to an archive system depending on some criteria. Being an active archive, the data is still available but stored in a self-managed environment that does not require additional backup (usually a primary and secondary copy of archive data is made). This greatly reduces administrative costs. As a VAR you can add real value in addressing customer needs by understanding how to use the products -- both software and hardware -- to perform intelligent archiving. To best provide solutions get trained on active archiving and how it differs from offsite backup and archiving. There are relative few products in this area now, and you'll only have a few vendors to work with in understanding products.
Some of the archiving products also implement regulatory compliance capabilities, allowing you to solve to major dilemmas in a single solution.
About the author: Randy Kerns is an independent storage consultant. In the past, he served as vice president of strategy and planning for storage at Sun Microsystems Inc., and covers storage and storage management software including SAN and NAS analysis.