HDS Plans SKU's Services

"Solution providers work on the principle of low overhead, and having a Hitachi service person on the bench is expensive," said Bernie Franczak, manager of solution provider HPM Networks, San Jose, Calif. "The ability to leverage services from a manufacturer on a one-off basis is great. It's like an insurance policy."

HDS is still finalizing the details, but the services will be offered as different SKUs for resale, will be aimed at SMBs and will include end-user-site evaluation tools, break-fix and storage solutions, said Charlie Wallace, director of global channel marketing at HDS, Santa Clara, Calif. Margins will probably range from 18 percent to 20 percent, he said.


HDS' Charlie Wallace says the company's new SKU'd services will target SMBs.

"Most solution providers haven't performed these specific services hundreds and hundreds of times [on HDS products], so why should they spend their time reinventing the rules?" he said. "Now they'll have a reliable process they can follow from A to Z."

HDS' channel product and services push focuses on the Thunder 9500 series of storage arrays. The new group of services will draw from the best practices, training and certification programs that HDS' direct-sales force and engineering team have used for years, Wallace said.

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HDS has demonstrated strong channel support over the past six months, and several solution providers said they think the new services will help them deliver targeted, robust solutions to their small and midsize clients.

"It's very clear to me that anything Hitachi provides will be well-thought-through, field-tested and something we can sell with confidence," said Hank Johnson, vice president of the Infrastructure Solutions Group at Stonebridge Technologies, a Dallas-based solution provider. "The world of storage is very complex, so we'll use these services to augment some of the things we already provide."

Added Barbara Ingram, marketing projects manager at Solarcom, a large solution provider in Norcross, Ga.: "If you're already in the Hitachi space, those best practices may help eliminate some problems you've already encountered," she said. "It would be less of an investment for us if those services were already packaged."

The services push follows HDS' expansion of its channel program to about 300 solution providers from 25 a year ago, Wallace said. In the past year, HDS has expanded its indirect support staff to 200 employees from about 25 and now splits its business 50-50 between direct and indirect sales, Wallace said.

"Our program is really well-rounded," he said. "Hitachi has transformed itself from a direct company to an indirect company."