2009 Channel Contenders: Network Storage3:00 PM EST Fri. Jul. 24, 2009
With Hewlett-Packard named by VARs as the leading vendor in network storage, that leaves IBM, EMC, Dell/EqualLogic and a slew of competitors to vie for solution providers' hearts, according to the 2009 Channel Contenders study. The research sought to identify the top vendors that solution providers choose as alternatives to market leaders. Here's a closer look at 10 companies to challenge HP in the network storage arena.
IBM's position as the top contender for network storage against HP stems mainly from both companies' leading positions in server sales. HP solution providers are more likely to sell HP storage with HP servers, while IBM solution providers are more likely to sell IBM storage with IBM servers. In addition, IBM has a complete line of network storage products as well as a huge base of channel partners, both of which contribute to its success in the storage channel.
EMC's success as a top contender for network storage results from its embracing the channel with one of the industry's best channel programs. It also helps that EMC is by many measures the largest storage-focused vendor. EMC also has endeared itself to, or at least pushed itself on, small businesses thanks to strategic acquisitions such as that of Iomega.
Dell, once the target of scorn and hate in the storage channel, has shown just what a powerhouse it can be by acquiring EqualLogic in 2008 and then proving it can keep the legacy EqualLogic channel partners happy. It was no accident. Dell acquired EqualLogic at about the same time that it unveiled its first serious channel program, making EqualLogic partners the litmus test for its program. It appears to have passed the test, according to the Channel Contenders study.
The whitebox server has traditionally been a top contender against servers from well-known vendors, and Intel's position as a network storage contender shows the power of the whitebox in this market as well. Intel provides enclosures, motherboards, controllers, processors and software to system builders looking to satisfy specific customer requirements, such as storage for high-performance computing or large-scale rack-mount environments.
NetApp, like EMC, is a top storage contender despite having no server business. Its success came from building a strong channel for its top-notch NAS and iSCSI SAN products. It also helps that IBM signed an agreement with NetApp under which NetApp products are also sold by IBM's direct and indirect sales forces. NetApp's status as a Channel Contender comes despite the lack of a small business product to replace the StoreVault line it ended early this year.
Sun's success in the storage channel is due to its acquisition a few years ago of StorageTek. However, it has become a top contender recently by developing storage products based on its top-notch server line, specifically its "Amber Road" Storage 7000 family, which has turned out to be a real hit with solution providers' midrange and enterprise customers.
Quantum has enjoyed a channel renaissance thanks to an emphasis on disk-based backup technology over its traditional tape backup solutions. However, the company is a network storage contender in large part due to channel acceptance of its strong data deduplication product line as an alternative to similar technology from other vendors. That line received a boost thanks to OEM agreements with Dell and EMC.
Netgear is, according to Gartner, the biggest-selling NAS in the sub-$5,000 SOHO market, as well as the sixth-largest seller of unified NAS and iSCSI SAN storage appliances and near the top in terms of sales of sub-$25,000 NAS appliances. That, combined with a 100 percent channel strategy, puts Netgear on the list of Channel Contenders in the network storage space.
Overland Storage, which has a channel-only strategy, has maintained a steadily loyal partner base, one that has grown with its acquisition of the Snap product line from Adaptec. The company went through some tough financial weather thanks in part to management missteps and the loss of a couple of OEM deals. However, its partners have stood by Overland, making it a strong contender in the SMB storage market.
Hitachi Data Systems, or HDS, is the primary independent competitor for EMC in the midrange and enterprise, which makes it a contender for the network storage market. A major portion of its sales go through Sun under a long-term reseller relationship and with HP under a long-term OEM agreement.