Western Digital (WD) claims it stuck by the channel throughout last autumn and winter's hard drive supply crisis as it unveiled a new partner portal and line of prosumer drives.
The vendor today peeled the wrappers off WD Red (pictured), a line of SATA hard drives tailored to home and small-office network attached storage (NAS) systems with one to five bays. They are now shipping in 3.5in 1TB, 2TB and 3TB capacities.
At the same time the vendor, which works with about 4,500 resellers in the UK, has launched My WD, a global partner portal uniting all its training material, product information and partner rewards under one roof. The WD University, which used to be a separate module, is now included in My WD.
Ian Keene, senior director of sales at WD, said the refresh would improve communication with its channel.
"Quite often the messaging from us through the channel to end users gets diluted and the danger is people end up buying a disk drive on Amazon or eBuyer on price and capacity when actually there is more to it. We spend millions on developing products yet fail to get the message over on which ones people should choose."
Last October's Thai floods hit WD far harder than any of its rivals but Keene said the vendor worked hard to ensure its drives were always available to the channel, which traditionally generates about 30 per cent of its total sales.
"We did not want to walk away from any segment so we were pretty strict in our allocation of product," he said. "In November, you could still get WD drives in the channel, whereas you couldn't for one of our competitors, which shifted heavily to OEM. So we think we are a channel-friendly company."
Availability has now returned to normal but Keene said WD had taken measures to prevent a repeat of last year's crisis.
"From our side, there was one core manufacturing process which we only built in Thailand and we have now duplicated that and are building it in Malaysia. We have also taken steps to ensure our suppliers are moving out there," he said.
Meanwhile, Keene revealed that WD is still conducting an investigation into the appearance of 160 faulty drives in the UK channel last year.
"Everyone in the UK has worked closely with us to understand the issue and go back to source, and the source clearly was not in the UK," he said.
WD was alerted to the issue by two system builders, who were suspicious that they had been supplied with counterfeit 2.5in VelociRaptor drives. Keene said the naming on the products was incorrect and the serial numbers did not tie up with the product code name, after which it called in Trading Standards.
But the episode has had a limited impact on WD's brand integrity, said Keene.
"I think it is a small, isolated case," he said. "We found 160 drives in the UK and we were shipping 15 million drives in the quarters before the floods, so it is a small number. We have done everything we can to support the customers and to shut down the source."
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