APC by Schneider Electric wants partners and its channel to be a bigger part of the planning process and more hands-on in the sales trenches. To do so, the company plans to incentivize partners as they look to attack the next-generation data center market with power and cooling solutions.
CRN caught up with Marc Sherman, APC vice president, at EcoStruxure In Action, an event hosted in Chicago by APC parent Schneider Electric. Sherman dished on APC's channel plans, the competition and what partners need to do to stay on top as the data center market continues to grow. Here are excerpts from that conversation.
Looking at the channel landscape right now, what are some of the challenges partners are facing in the data center and with power and cooling?
At the highest level, for our partner base and from the communication we get back from them, [the challenge] is that for them to be successful in their core business they have to enable the technology they sell to be highly reliable and highly available. You cannot ignore how critical data center consumption is as it relates to overall energy usage. It has a little more glamour than it has probably had in the past. You almost can't look at helping a customer virtualize or consolidate – and if you look at where a customer is spending their money and how you would maximize share of wallet, the highest percentage of overall budgets are shifting to the physical infrastructure to support the technology, but to also support the application and support business process.
We find our partners to be much more aware of this topic, this category, than ever before. Before, our business was sort of a peripheral type business. It was a nice to have. You sold a server; you sold a UPS with it. Today, the enablement of their technology to help the customer succeed and reach whatever their business goals are is very dependent on a secure physical infrastructure.
A lot of the discussion here revolved around reducing power consumption and increasing energy efficiency in the data center; how are partners facing these challenges? Are customers and clients coming to them and demanding "green" solutions or massive cost savings on energy?
It's far more relevant than it was ever before. The providers, our partners, certainly need to be armed in how to help their customers understand the dilemma here and understand how to best solve these problems. It's complex. This is a huge crisis in a sense and it's not going to be solved by any one company, any one product or any one partner. It's really, for the first time ever, a real collaborative effort.
Our providers are certainly adding the value they way we know that they know how to and are prepared to go through the ebbs and flows of the IT industry over the last 20 years. If they're still in business they know they've got to stay ahead of things that are ultimately important and on the minds of their customers, of which this category, this discussion point, is critical. Especially because everything our providers sell has a plug. It plugs in. It draws power. There's going to be an efficiency discussion to be had. And if they're not having it, somebody else is going to have it. So we say let's empower you to understand how to ask questions, how to add value on the topic and how to best utilize us to help solve the problems.
Next: How The Cloud And Virtualization Change Power And Cooling