Network Appliance is expanding its channel-only bundle offerings with a new series of packaged iSCSI SAN solutions.
NetApp has been offering bundles to its channel partners since last year in order to give solution providers the opportunity to go out and create their own street prices, said Leonard Iventosch, vice president of North American channels. "There are always questions about whether direct or channel sales drive prices," he said. "This eliminates the question."
NetApp's bundles bring together hardware, software and storage protocols in a package that ensures solution providers can offer aggressive pricing while keeping high margins, Iventosch said. "They don't need to ask for special pricing," he said. "Suddenly all the cycles involved with special pricing—and there are a lot of them—go away."
Bundles also make it easier for solution providers to create their own services offerings around a solution, said Iventosch. "Nine out of 10 times, our partners wrap their own services around the solution," he said. "So they don't worry they might get beat by another partner, or by (NetApp OEM partner) IBM. "Instead, they use services to keep the customer."
Merrill Likes, president of UpTime, an Edmond, Okla.-based solution provider who has already started offering NetApp's VTL and security bundles to customers, said such bundles are the best way for smart sales reps to stay competitive.
"Purchasing the individual parts are not always the best deal," he said. "And while not everyone can use the specific bundles, they are a great way to start."
Bundles are especially good for the larger small business and the midsize customers, said Likes. "There, customers have some budget, and can act quicker on a purchase, usually within a promotion period," he said.
Tom Kuni, president of SSI hubcity, a Metuchen, N.J.-based NetApp partner, said the vendor has a good strategy with its bundles.
"Before, only the big companies could afford NetApp's appliances," Kuni said. "Now they are opening up to smaller companies, getting more brand awareness. Smaller companies need products like NetApp's, but couldn’t afford them in the past."
NetApp has in the past couple of days been quietly introducing four new storage bundles based on iSCSI technology to its channel partners, said Debbie Medal, senior director of partner communications for the vendor.
One includes a FAS250 iSCSI appliance with 2.0 Tbytes of Fibre Channel capacity, the second has a FAS270 appliance with 288 Gbytes of Fibre Channel and 3.5 Tbytes of SATA capacity, the third has a FAS270c with 2.0 Tbytes of Fibre Channel capacity, and the last has a FAS270c with 576 Gbytes of Fibre Channel and 3.5 Tbytes of SATA.
All four also include support for the CIFS (Common Internet File System) file sharing and iSCSI protocols, and include SnapManager data snapshot software for Microsoft Exchange or SQL, said Medal. List prices for the bundles, expected to ship starting March 27, start at about $15,000, she said.
The next few weeks will also see NetApp engage in co-op marketing with its top solution provider partners, including the placing of ads in IT and vertical publications, Medal said.
The release of the bundles will also coincide with a move by NetApp to recruit more solution providers, said Iventosch.
"We always had a philosophy that a smaller number of resellers is better," he said. "But we now know that we need more resellers to grow. We realize that most of our partners are storage-only companies. Or they are platform resellers who sell Sun or similar brands mainly with direct-attach storage."