VARs: Storage And Security Come Down To Trust, Cost

As the security and storage markets continue to grow, and show little sign of slowing down, VARs said there are two key factors that can help sell secure storage solutions: cost and trust.

The VARs, part of an Everything Channel Virtual Tradeshow discussing security and storing customer data, said without trust between the customer and their VAR and without trust between the VAR and their vendors, a deal could be dead in the water.

"Customers have got to trust us and we've got to trust the customers," said Joseph Ploehn, principal consultant, professional servers for CompuCom, a Dallas, Texas-based solution provider.

While Florinado Gallicchio, risk management practice manager for Melillo Consulting, a Somerset, N.J.-based firm, agreed that trust is a must, oftentimes customers looking to secure and store data have budget restrictions, making cost a deciding factor.

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"Money talks," he said, later adding that, "The key to security selling is how much is it going to cost them? If they can get away with not doing that security, even if they're required, they'll do it."

Establishing those relationships is becoming an ever increasing need for VARs, as both the security and storage markets continue to balloon, mainly because of the massive amounts of data that companies amass and the regulations that require them to keep that data locked up and secured, sometimes for up to a decade.

"Information really is the asset our customers are trying to protect," Gallicchio said. "What we're seeing is the protection of storage not just at rest, but in transit."

For David Dadian, CEO and founder of, a Ho-Ho-Kus, N.J.-based solution provider, the marriage between security and storage has remained a growth area for his business, simply because of the amount of data out there and the need to protect it. Other VARs are facing the same challenges.

"The amount of data that has to be stored and secured has grown exponentially," said Ploehn. Ploehn said storage and security solutions topped his best sellers in 2007 and will continue to grow into 2008. "The outlook is bright in both," he said.

And it's regulatory compliance such as HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley that is driving these monstrous amounts of storage, since regulations require data to be maintained for several years. That amount of storage requires solid security to protect it from getting into the wrong hands.

Dadian said loss of data of any kind can be catastrophic to a company.

"If they lose that data, they're done," he said. "They could be out of business in six months."

But the tremendous growth in the amount of data has also led to a decrease in cost to store it. Dadian said he's seen prices for mass storage arrays drop and the pricing for terabytes of storage shrink. That price reduction is leading to more options for securing the data, he said.

Another hurdle VARs face, however, lies not just in securing data, but managing if for their clients and customers.

"We're seeing a push toward how to efficiently manage data from a cost perspective," Gallicchio said. As companies add more and more disk space, cataloging and accessing data becomes difficult, add increased security costs to that and it can sometimes be prohibitive.

Next: Picking The Right Vendors

Vendors, for their part, aren't really helping spread the message, Gallicchio said. He said storage and security vendors aren't adequately translating regulatory requirement costs for customers, leaving it up to resellers to become those trusted advisors.

"How do we translate that for a client?" he asked. "There's no one answer to that across the board. You have to match both the regulatory requirement and the business requirement."

Since each company is unique, VARs must get to know their clients, not just go in and throw technology at the problem, especially when VARs deal with clients in different verticals, Dadian said.

"You really have to make sure you have everything prepared and understand the clients," he said.

A little knowledge and a solid relationship can go a long way into getting existing clients on board with new storage and security solutions and attracting new customers.

Ploehn said CompuCom tends to drive security and storage solutions into existing customers who they aren't yet working with in those particular areas, but that can't be accomplished without building a strong relationship.

Dadian agreed, adding "It's getting to know your client inside, outside and backwards." He said too many VARs today know more about Brittany Spears and her sister than their customers and clients, which in many cases can be a deal-breaker.

Vendors also play a key role in building up those relationships, the solution providers said. While each has different methods for evaluating new vendors and products before marketing them to clients, all agreed that doing the required homework can pay off, resulting in strong vendor partnerships and better customers relationships.

Ploehn, Dadian and Gallicchio all said they have strong storage ties with Hewlett-Packard, and for security Dadian forks closely with Fortinet and Symantec and Gallicchio partners with RSA, Symantec and Secure Computing.

Dadian said before he considers offering a vendor's solutions to his clients, must test it for 90 days, "beat the tar out of it," and make sure it works as promised. If it doesn't, that's the end of that. He recalled instance where his staff picked apart a vendor's 300-page operations manual, and decided by page 257 that the solution wasn't up to snuff.

"You learn your lesson very quickly not to rush anything out there," he said. "It is imperative to really vet these products out There's a lot of promise out there. They'll talk a great story."

For Gallicchio and Melillo Consulting, considering a new vendor is a two-way street. Before working with new vendors he'd like them to help out as well. Whether it's marketing or being creative and offering extended pilot programs to his clients, Gallicchio said working with new vendors is a give-and-take and vendors must "pass a test or two to make sure we trust them before taking them to customers."