Hitachi Data Systems To Unveil New Channel Programs

Hitachi is uniting its partners into a single channel program for the first time, said Cathy Lott, manager of global channel marketing for the company.

The company's new TrueNorth Solutions Alliance aims to allow increased collaboration between solution providers, developer partners and technology partners in order to develop additional revenue opportunities for each, said Lott.

A key focus of the Alliance will be new programs targeted to help solution providers improve their HDS business, including financial incentives.

Solution providers will be able to earn up to 4 percent market development funds on sales of modular storage array hardware and software, and up to 3 percent in back-end rebates, when they achieve pre-determined objectives such as new accounts, revenue goals or competitive wins, said Lott.

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Also new is expanded financing capabilities via HDS Credit Corp, as well as extended payment terms via HDS's distributors, she said.

Early next year, HDS will formalize its certification programs, Lott said. This will include sales authorization and pre-sales technical certification, especially around the company's modular arrays. Initiatives are also under way to certify solution providers for implementation services, but will not be finalized until the first quarter of next year, she said.

HDS is also working on a deal registration program under which solution providers can register a potential deal with the vendor to ensure HDS's direct sales force stays out. However, that registration, expected to go live starting January 1, does not keep other solution providers out of the deal, said Lott.

Doug Koo, CEO of CAT Technologies, a Los Gatos, Calif.-based Hitachi and Sun solution provider, said the new channel program will make it easier to work with the company.

"Now they are taking the next step to take out anything in their program that is gray," Koo said. "This formalizes what was unwritten before. There may be situations which come up not covered by the new program, but Hitachi has always been up front with us."

Koo said HDS's new certification programs should help reward partners who invest in the vendor by weeding out those who are not committed to the product line. They could even help stabilize margins, he said.

Also, said Koo, while HDS has offered market development funds in the past, they were one-off proposals. "The new program helps with planning," he said.

HDS this week will also unveil the Thunder 9500V-series of modular arrays. The new series is an extension of the company's Thunder 9200 with the addition of virtual port capabilities as well as increased capacity and performance, said Phil Townsend, senior director of product marketing.

The 9530V departmental array has usable capacity between 200 Gbytes and 930 Gbytes, said Townsend. The 9570V scales beyond 17 Tbytes, with two controllers and up to 14 hard drives in each 3U cabinet, and is a credible alternative to HP's EVA, Sun's T3 and 6800, the LSI array OEM'd by IBM, and EMC's Clariion, he said.

On the software side, HDS plans to release HiCommand version 2.2, a management suite that is compliant with the Common Information Model (CIM) specifications, which allow storage software to manage multi-vendor arrays.

Included are the HiCommand Device Manager, which adds CIM capabilities to HDS's arrays, as well as HiCommand Tuning Manager, which allows customers to discover and report on the capacity and performance attributes of arrays to help in capacity planning and provisioning, Townsend said.

CIM-compliance is important, but something that will require much time before customers understand it, said Koo. "Any time you educate the customer on anything, it takes time," he said. "And it's not just the customers. It takes time to train your own sales [force. This is true of any vendor. A lot of sales reps don't understand software."

Hitachi is expected to see its worldwide storage capacity shipments jump nearly 70 percent during the second half of this year compared to the same time last year, according to A.G. Edwards,