EMC Rolls Out Three New Storage Initiatives

The Hopkinton, Mass-based vendor this month unveiled its Making Storage Simple program aimed at helping VARs work with customers, particularly SMBs, said Mike Wytenus, senior director of midsize enterprise marketing at EMC.

The program includes three initiatives for SMBs. The first is Express Solutions, a portfolio of storage bundles aimed at specific solutions. Those bundles include Clariion SAN arrays, Centera content-addressable storage arrays, Celera and NetWin NAS appliances and EMC switches and software. The bundles initially will target Microsoft Exchange archiving, but future solutions also will target networked storage, backup and recovery and business protection, Wytenus said. Solution providers selling the bundles can receive co-op dollars and other reward points under EMC's Velocity channel program, unveiled in January at its partner conference, Wytenus said.

Tom Raimondi, president and CEO of MTI, a Tustin, Calif.-based EMC solution provider, said that while his company could put such a bundle together by itself, EMC's Express Solutions are priced lower than the cost of buying the different parts.

Also, MTI does not need to spend time and money certifying that the solution works as planned and can scale, Raimondi said. "The entire configuration [for an Exchange] solution is not just certified by EMC, but also by Microsoft," he said.

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Dimension Data already has started building services around the Express Solutions, particularly in helping customers migrate from Exchange 5.5 to Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2003, a task which has multiple technical issues, said Mike Boissiere, director of alliance marketing at the Reston, Va.-based VAR. "Our difference is our services," Boissiere said. "We have pre-sales support, including customer assessments and audits of their Exchange environment, and we do analysis on return on investment. We also do services around Active Directory. And on the back end, we provide managed services," he said.

The second initiative is an online auto configuration tool to make it easier for solution providers to install the Express Solutions, Wytenus said. "Today, channel partners ask customers questions, pull out a 1,500-piece price book, decide what software they need, what array they need, what capacity, cables, HBAs [host bus adapters], and so on," he said.

With EMC's configuration wizard, however, solution providers just answer a few short questions, and the wizard's knowledge-based intelligence finds the right products, components, and capacities, Wytenus said. "It pulls out the right products, the right white papers, configuration information, and blueprints," he said. "It guarantees 100 percent compatibility. The partner gets a rock-solid solution and gets what services they need. Raimondi said he has seen configuration time drop 40 percent since MTI starting using a beta version of the wizard. "There's no need to use our best systems engineering talent to do the configuration," he said. "The customer just answers eight questions."

Under the third initiative, Velocity Financing, EMC is making it possible for solution providers to apply for credit and leasing terms over the Internet for both EMC and non-EMC equipment, Wytenus said. Whereas credit and leasing approval used to be a manual process, he said, now small and midsize businesses should be able to get fast approval for deals in the $100,000 to $150,000 range. "We will match any level of customer need," he said.

Whereas MTI had to turn to a combination of EMC and third-party companies for customer financing, the new program will allow the solution provider to now offer EMC financing with almost any quote, Raimondi said. The new EMC Express Solutions start at $5,995. The new Making Storage Simple initiatives are open to all of EMC's channel partners, including Dell, which is expected to use a subset of them. The technology, however, will not be available to the company's direct sales, Wytenus said.