The buying power of SMBs has caught the attention of vendor giants EMC and Cisco, with both unveiling plans to hook smaller firms.
Storage behemoth EMC set out its SMB plans during the European launch of its reworked product line-up in central London last week.
They include the rollout of a SMB-focused unified storage product, the VNXe, and the creation of a partner category for resellers selling it.
The Authorised Reseller classification is aimed at reeling in new partners who will focus on building volume sales for VNXe via the firm's distribution partners.
Pat Gelsinger, chief operating officer at EMC, explained: "[EMC's] existing distribution relationships are going to be dramatically expanded.
"This is a new volume distribution channel containing not just a new set of distribution partners but thousands of new resellers," he added.
To support its SMB ambitions, EMC is stumping up $20m in go-to-market funds, according to Gelsinger, to help Authorised resellers build product awareness. "In as little as three hours, a reseller can become an Authorised partner," he said.
"In this category, we need to create demand, awareness and enablement tools for our distribution and channel partners, and are committing $20m to this."
EMC partner and networking titan Cisco has also announced plans to make a concerted push into the SMB space this year.
Regional sales manager Andy Brocklehurst recently took on responsibility for the vendor's small business and distribution channel.
He is looking to recruit 220 small business-focused partners and prise business away from the small business mainstays such as Panasonic, Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent and Samsung.
"From an end user perspective, there is a perception that we are a premium brand and we want to break that," he said.
"Partner interest in us is more than ever. [In many cases], where they have dual vendors, they are looking to replace their second partner with us."
Bob Tarzey, service director at analyst Quocirca, said both firms may struggle to win over VARs selling SMB products from rival vendors.
"Getting the channel on side will be the biggest challenge because they will have to prove their SMB products are much better than what they are already selling," he said.
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