Three Letters Say It All For EMC: SMB

EMC sees the SMB market as its next growth opportunity, and it knows it will depend exclusively on the channel to achieve its goal of being a $1 billion business over the next few years.

That’s the message from Linda Connly, Americas vice president and general manager for inside sales and the SMB division for EMC, who told solution provider attendees at XChange Tuesday that they will find EMC to not only be an easy partner to work with, but one that will ensure they get all the services revenue possible from their SMB customers.

Connly said that even with the great recession of the past couple of years, customers still grew their storage capacities by 62 percent. That was good news for EMC, which saw its share of the core storage market rise by 5 percent last year, and which expects to see growth of 15 percent to 20 percent over the next three years.

’We are going to take share,’ she said. ’But where are we going to take share? SMB.’

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The math is pretty simple, Connly said. Midmarket storage is expected to continue to grow by 5 percent over the next couple of years, but SMB storage is expected to grow by 15 percent over that time. ’This a marketplace that, until now, we haven’t played in,’ she said.

EMC on Jan. 17 had its biggest product launch in its history and of the 41 new products unveiled, 20 of them are for the SMB, Connly said.

The lead SMB product was the VNXe, which scales to up to 120 2-TB nearline SAS hard drives. The VNXe appliance can be configured with SSDs for extra performance and comes with an iSCSI host. It fits in a 2U or 3U enclosure and features no single point of failure. List price starts at less than $10,000, which includes six hard drives, EMC’s Unisphere management software, file-based dedupe, snapshot capabilities, and support for CIFS, NFS and iSCSI storage.

Best of all, Connly said, is all the features you get for the price. ’Here’s something not often said about EMC: We are the price leader,’ she said.

The SMB market is a channel-only play for EMC, Connly said. To reach partners, the company has modified its channel program to make it easy for partners to sign up in minutes, get sales reps or systems engineers trained in three hours, get technical people trained in another two hours, and then start selling the appliance and adding services.

Partners can either sell their own services, resell EMC’s services, or partner with another services provider on the services side, Connly said.

Starting April 1, EMC will redefine what it means by SMB. Customers with 500 users or less will be SMBs and will all be open to channel partners, Connly said. That compares to a more restricted definition of 250 users now, she said.

’Next year we want to look back on this year and say we won, and here’s what we need to do now,’ she said.

Jamie Shepard, executive vice president of technology solutions at ICI, a Marlborough, Mass.-based solution provider, said that his company, which has had almost no SMB business in the past, expects SMB sales to jump to $5 million thanks to EMC’s new SMB initiatives.

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’We didn’t sell much into SMBs,’ Shepard said. ’We were getting killed by Dell. We told customers we could procure servers and services for them. But it was hard to discount the services enough to sell EMC storage licenses to SMB. But not anymore.’

EMC has done a great job listening to partners, Shepard said. For instance, when ICI first saw an early model of the VNXe, it saw a GUI that worked well with VMware’s virtualization but not Microsoft’s Hyper-V.

’We told EMC it needs to go into Microsoft shops and compete against Dell,’ he said. ’So they added Hyper-V. Now we can go into any Microsoft shop.’