Resellers are often brought in at the planning stage when a business is looking ahead and forecasting growth and needs to include an IT strategy that will support and enable this expansion. It is therefore imperative that the channel partner recommends and designs to customer expectations and external requirements such as policies and legislation.
A clear picture is usually the starting point; you cannot build a house if you do not know who will be living there and what the foundations are like. Over the past few years, storage analytics have taken a stronger hold as must-have tools for anyone reviewing existing environments or planning for growth, be they resellers, consultants or even large end users.
The ability to gain a holistic view of the entire storage infrastructure is extremely valuable, as it provides critical data about ongoing capacity, performance and allocations irrespective of vendor badge.
If there is a multi-vendor storage strategy, the difficulty of representing this data consistently and in a meaningful way is magnified and presents a unique problem for the channel.
Collecting data from storage arrays does not provide any context, so integration is required to understand the connectivity between applications and storage. There are also huge difficulties in multi-location environments that may have network access issues and different teams responsible for administration.
For resellers, keeping track of vendor and end-user data is something which needs to be considered and addressed with each project and unless data collection is automated, information very quickly becomes obsolete and loses its value.
This results in bursts of activity, revalidating data, usually in an audit or capacity planning exercise. This reactive working practice disrupts normal operations and can be costly to the business – making the reseller's job longer and less profitable.
Time is money and the channel has been clamouring for a quicker way of analysing storage environments for a long time. Software products are available that allow IT professionals to identify and fix vulnerable areas in their storage infrastructures. These have been developed over a long time to provide enterprise-class, highly available reporting.
Many thousands of days of testing and deployment in diverse environments mean that the time taken to deliver real business value to the customer is much shorter. If the reseller is relying on manual analysis, it will be at a huge time cost without the guarantee of identifying trends or dilemmas and eliminating emergency purchases.
When considering the right tools, resellers should consider support of existing and future storage products. Independent systems typically have a much broader set of supported devices than vendor-owned products.
They should also consider integration with business metrics. The offering should provide integration with the customer's business-specific information such as cost centre, department, owner, location and so on. This allows more relevant reports to be generated and creates a much more valuable solution, allowing for better service and stronger, longer relationships with the client.
Flexibility may also be key. Most users have reports that they would like to see in a specific format so the offering should deliver the reports any way the user wants.
Any reseller that can create an exhaustive picture of the customer's storage infrastructure quickly, accurately and easily will have an advantage over competitors relying on manual processes. Time may never have been worth this much money.
Nigel Houghton is EMEA regional sales manager at Aptare
Deloitte has been appointed as administrators for the struggling distie
It's been announced that billionaire tech pioneer Paul Allen died on Monday from non-Hodgkin lymphoma
Your latest edition of CRN
Air-IT founder Todd McQuilkin imparts the first 10 of his golden nuggets for MSP owners