For the past 12 to 18 months we have been hearing how e-commerce 'clicks and mortar' ventures and applications, such as customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning, have led to exceptional growth rates in the data storage market.
What might not yet be clear, however, is what role back-up and disaster recovery, two key elements of any solid business continuity plan, play in this growth.
To maximise opportunities it is important for the channel to understand which elements of the data storage market present the strongest cases.
Resellers should then pursue these and ensure that solutions are not offered before firms are ready to consider them or after they have already implemented a back-up strategy.
It might be difficult for a reseller to explain how a sound disaster recovery strategy will help a small or medium-sized enterprise stay competitive, but it is easier when dealing with large companies for which back-up is a necessity.
If we look at the obstacles that the channel faces, these are often found at the executive, vice president or director levels.
Here, where return on investment is key, there is a lack of involvement in the adoption of data storage strategies. They are still seen as the responsibility of the IT department, which ultimately does not sign off the larger budgets.
A trend is emerging where dedicated resources are allocated to the storage section of the IT department, and senior management is beginning to look at including data storage in the business plan, but this is still not the norm. Resellers should therefore aim to provide a business case that appeals to both engineers and senior executives.
Previously, most firms followed the DIY model, where the IT department created a back-up solution without external help. While this is sometimes successful, it is often not the most effective solution as the engineers may lack the necessary skills.
It often leads to a cost-inefficient IT department that would benefit from a general overhaul to maximise resources. It also leads to the department buying more storage capacity than it actually needs, especially when scaling up.
Resellers have an opportunity to assess companies' existing infrastructure, needs and future growth and make storage resources work harder by designing a consolidation plan to include general data storage, back-up and disaster recovery as part of a consultative sale.
Andrew Batty is chairman of the Fibre Channel Industry Association.
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