Solution Provider Nexus Launches Storage Division

Nexus Information Systems, Plymouth, Minn., has seen its storage practice grow from nothing to $6 million in five years, said Keith Norbie, director of sales for the new division.

"But what do we do for Act Two?" Norbie said. "To grow further, we are spinning storage into a separate division within Nexus. It's already 30-to-50 percent of Nexus' business revenue."

The move will allow Nexus to develop dedicated sales and support resources for its storage practice, which includes such products as Network Appliance's NAS filers and EMC's Symmetrix enterprise-class array. "A separate division lets us focus on storage customers," Norbie said. "If we have dedicated sales reps, they get involved with passion with the customer."

The primary focus of the new division going forward will be on expanding the company's storage services beyond the assessment, consulting, implementation and product refreshment services it currently offers, Norbie said.

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On tap for the division is an expansion into managed services, based on Nexus' relationship with CommVault Systems, a storage management software vendor based in Oceanport, N.J.

"Today, we have a ton of CommVault customers," Norbie said. "There's no reason we can't offer $500-per-month services to have customers send us their backup logs so we can make sure everything is OK, or look for problems and resolve them. We can extend this to Symantec or other software applications. Customer can do these things themselves, but if we can do it cheaper, better, faster, it lets customers focus on more profitable parts of their business."

Nexus also wants to expand its storage assessment services. Storage assessment is growing more critical as customers' storage engagements grow in size, Norbie said.

Also on tap is an expansion of Nexus' storage implementation services so it can depend less on vendor help in the deployment phase, Norbie said. "The weakest position for a VAR to be in is to sell a vendor SKU with the vendor's services," he said. "You have to have some kind of a stand-alone 'so what' factor. If I call a customer and tell him I can sell a Clariion array, I get a little business. But If I can tell that customer I can re-engineer his processes, I add value to the customer."

One of the first things the new division has done is create three proof-of-concept racks.

The first rack the division rolled out includes an ADIC tape library, a disk-based backup appliance from Data Domain, Palo Alto, Calif., and a fully configured network with 2.0-Tbyte SAN, three ProLiant FLX380 servers, gigabit Ethernet and 2-Gbps Fibre Channel connectivity.

Nexus also just finished its second proof-of-concept rack featuring IBM server blades, along with SAN and NAS products from Network Appliance, and is finalizing a third rack based on Hewlett-Packard servers and HP's EVA storage equipment, Norbie said.

Norbie said the racks allow the virtualization of a customer environment. "Now we can show the customer continuous data protection or other new concepts," he said. "And with VMware, I can build as many virtual machines as I want to show customers CDP or backup technology. We can power-up and power-down virtual machines to demo the new technology."

Going forward, Norbie said he can see Nexus opening up other divisions to take advantage of other new business opportunities. "You never know," he said. "Oracle is always knocking on the door. And VoIP—we're getting calls every week."