By seeing storage infrastructure as a core element of a unique solution rather than a peripheral, VARs can significantly increase revenues, margins, and value add. By Kim Hofmann
April 02, 2012
By seeing storage infrastructure as a core element of a unique solution rather than a peripheral, VARs can significantly increase revenues, margins, and value add.
By Kim Hofmann
It’s no secret that there has been renewed growth in IT expenditures to increase productivity and efficiency, particularly in specific technology areas and vertical markets. Storage-related solutions are one of those unique technology opportunities that offer better-than-average prospective growth.
According to top industry analysts, that growth will reach 5.8 percent over the next few years, and is even greater in some verticals such as healthcare, banking and securities, retail, utilities, education, and government, with double-digit growth expected.
Organizations in these markets establish strategic advantage by maximizing the value of their data. And your ability as a VAR to facilitate this process can be a real differentiator. But how can you sell a storage solution specific to a vertical market? First, by “solution” I mean an offering that includes professional services, software, and hardware. By combining all three, you can create much more value for your customers and demonstrate your abilities as an IT provider.
Let’s start with the healthcare field. The storage technology challenges of a healthcare organization are largely based on the implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs). And adoption of EMRs will be driven by the need to manage large, unstructured data files created by a multitude of applications. That is, the healthcare industry has to collect, store, manipulate, analyze, back up, archive, share, and move large amounts of data so it can be accessed by many groups at different locations while maintaining its integrity and security. The storage solutions that manage those processes will need to be adept at handling large, unstructured files. While speed is always important, these systems will need to have significant bandwidth and include industry-specific archiving solutions, such as vendor-neutral archiving, or VNA.
Looking at the financial sector, two drivers of IT implementations are business analytics and customer channels. Banks know that the more products you purchase from them, the less likely you are to move to a competitor and the more profitable your relationship will be. Hence, they collect and analyze a massive amount of data to keep as much relevant messaging in front of you as possible. This effort may take a lot of computing power, but in many cases, the limiting factor will be the storage infrastructure’s ability to execute I/O operations.
And what happens when you log on to your banking website and want to take advantage of an offer? As with other retail transactions, you expect safety and speed. Anything less will cause you to move on without completing the transaction. In this case, the ability to execute “reads and writes” is the primary need of the storage system.
These are just two examples of how a storage infrastructure must be designed with the end user in mind, but there are multiple variations. While storage optimization, storage virtualization, and data protection may be some of the most important issues storage administrators are dealing with these days, there is no single “right solution,” but rather those that include a mix of products and services that address end customers’ needs.
Your ability to provide custom storage solutions will increase your value as well as your revenue and margins. Although it is critical to understand the technology in each solution, it is now especially important to understand high-growth vertical markets so that you may develop or obtain the ability to execute assessment and implementation services for end users facing diverse needs within their specific industries.
KIM HOFMANN is director of storage solutions for Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas, an IT distributor in Tempe, Ariz.