Two tape-library vendors used solution provider conferences this week to introduce new products and channel programs.
Spectra Logic on Thursday unveiled enhancements to its Partner Success Program at its fourth annual VARcon meeting in Boulder, Colo.
The Partner Success Program now has a second tier, said Bill Reed, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Spectra Logic.
Current solution providers for the vendor, which derives about 65 percent of its U.S. revenue through the channel, will automatically become Gold-level VARs. They are also eligible to become Platinum-level VARs by committing to having 75 percent of their storage specialists trained on Spectra Logic, purchasing demonstration equipment at a 70 percent discount off list price, and participating with the vendor in quarterly forecasting meetings, Reed said.
In return, Spectra Logic will give its Platinum partners a quarterly rebate of "a couple of points," as well as increased joint telemarketing support, Reed said.
Michael Fanelli, western regional manager at Sales Strategies, a solution provider in Metuchen, N.J., said Spectra Logic has a good channel program, especially in terms of opportunity registration, and that he looks forward to becoming a Platinum partner with the vendor.
However, Fanelli said he reserves judgement on Spectra Logic's demo equipment plans. Such equipment requires a lot of space and is often obsolete by the time it is sold, he said.
But Fanelli said he welcomes providing Spectra input on forecasting. "It's part of being a partner," he said. "You can't be a partner without adding something."
Fanelli also said he likes the idea of rebates, but that he is not sure they will result in more sales. "I'm more motivated by customer satisfaction," he said.
Last week, Spectra Logic rival Overland Storage used its first-ever partner summit to pass details about its storage software strategy to solution providers.
The company, formerly named Overland Data, in June started shipping its storage resource management (SRM) software, the first of three applications aimed at managing a client's complete storage infrastructure.
In the next quarter, the company plans to release Overland Storage Planner, which helps design and set up a SAN, followed early next year by Overland Storage Area Network Manager, which discovers, manages and monitors multivendor SAN devices, said John Cloyd, vice president and general manager of the company's Storage Management Business Unit.
Cloyd told partners the software will help them become professional services providers by allowing them to help clients survey their data needs, provide suggestions and get visibility in their storage consumption. Partners can also get recurring revenue from annual maintenance fees. "Our hardware is so good, you can't make money on break-fix," he said.
Al Conte, sales manager at Sourcetek Systems, a Portsmouth, N.H.-based solution provider, said he likes the Overland storage management software message because that vendor does not sell hard drive-based storage hardware.
"That lets them act almost like an outside adviser," he said. "At the end of the day, they're not trying to use backup software to sell more disk drives."
Conte said Overland's upcoming SAN planning tool will be a great aid in helping customers with their storage needs. "For users contemplating purchasing a SAN next year, we can plug in the parameters and see if they really can use a SAN," he said. "[Overland implied that if you use the planner, your client may see he doesn't need a SAN or doesn't need one now."
Fanelli, who also works with Overland, said that company's software model is unique in that its SRM software is licensed according to capacity, so customers can start out at a low cost. With other vendors, it is common to have to purchase the same license regardless of capacity, whereas with Overland a license can be purchased in chunks of 100 Gbytes.
Both Overland and Spectra also unveiled hardware road maps.
Overland plans to introduce LTO-2 drives with 200 Mbytes of native capactiy to its tape libraries late this year, to be followed by LTO-3 drives with 400 Gbytes of capacity late next year, said Bob Scroop, vice president and general manager of the company's Storage Resource Business Unit. The company is now starting to offer SDLT 320 drives with 160 Gbytes capacity in its libraries and plans to offer SDLT 640 drives with 320 Gbytes capacity late next year, he said.
Overland Storage will also unveil an expanded version of its Neo tape libraries with capacity of up to 99 Tbytes by year's end. The Neo has just been given partitioning capabilities and is expected to be available with iSCSI by year's end and 10-Gbit Ethernet early next year, Scroop said.
The company also plans to introduce two new models of the Neo libraries. Like the current Neo 4000 series, they are modular libraries. However, to cut costs, the new versions will start out at higher capacities, Scroop said.
Meanwhile, Spectra Logic this fall is planning a number of performance enhancements on its current line of libraries, including 2-Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity, increased scalability and a second-generation Gbit Ethernet interface with three times the throughput of the company's current version, Reed said.