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The enterprise storage charm

Enterprise storage is a centralised repository for business information that provides common data management, protection, and data sharing functions through connections to computer systems. For resellers and solution providers, the enterprise storage market has never been more mature than it is now. If you are not selling enterprise, now is the right time to jump on the enterprise storage and services bandwagon, writes Manda Banda, Editor, Intelligent Tech Channels.

If you are a reseller, solution provider or VAR not selling storage, now is the right time to jump onto the enterprise storage and services bandwagon. The Middle East and Africa (MEA) enterprise storage market has been constantly evolving and has seen significant growth over the last two years. The growth was accelerated mainly as a result of organisations of all types and size driving Digital Transformation agendas, remote work, and e-commerce offerings amid the pandemic, thereby contributing to the development of the data storage market through increased infrastructure investments. For channel partners serving the broader MEA market, it’s important to note that verticals that led this wide-scale adoption include public sector undertakings, banking and finance, and the education sector among others.

According to Future Market Insights, the MEA data storage market is projected to reach US$8,431.3 million by 2025. This according to the research firm, is mainly driven by the emergence of data from the data centre to the Edge to the cloud with the majority of future data expected to be generated at the Edge.

That being the case, the enterprise storage market, while being disrupted, is seeing some steady growth in MEA. For example, many customers are throwing out their enterprise centralised storage landscape and converged infrastructure storage investments. Equally, there is surprisingly a drive to enterprise server-based storage, even from a footprint perspective. There is also a move to software-defined storage (SDS) and infrastructure, of which storage is a part. In short, what I can determine from this shift is that customers are moving towards a more integrated form of storage in the market. So, where does this leave the channel partner?

There is no denying the impact cloud storage has – and will continue to – have – within enterprises, as it offers scalability and accessibility to many organisations.

However, I believe that having a “hybrid” storage infrastructure, has never been more important, with more sophisticated applications and uses such as AI, IoT, Industry 4.0, to name a few. In turn, this has increased the demands for higher speeds and lower latency.

So, having business-critical data physically closer to the environments in which it is used ensures that these technologies are working effectively and leaves room for more flexibility and individual choices in terms of security features.

With the enterprise storage market witnessing growth channel partners should lookout for key technologies that not only stand them in good stead with their offerings to customers but are able to implement these solutions competently and with confidence

Clearly, the growth the enterprise storage market is witnessing is being driven by business innovation which in turn is being driven by innovation in applications and data. Therefore, as a reseller, you should be focused on technologies that help you harness your client’s data. You need to stop thinking of the storage layer as a silo but rather as an essential aspect that supports your customer’s data layer alongside their application layer. As a solution provider in this segment, you should also be aligning yourself to technologies that streamline storage architectures in terms of unified storage. To stay ahead of the game and competitors in this space, you need to maximise your storage opportunity within a customer footprint and focus more on overarching or unified storage technologies. And when I say that I mean storage technologies that are not siloed and allow enterprises to innovate with applications, knowing that each application typically requires a different kind of storage.

Now, customers are investing in different types of storage, such as file storage and even block storage, because they support different kinds of apps. This approach lets customers fall into the storage silo trap – where they are investing in a host of storage technologies to serve their various applications. This presents a massive opportunity for reseller business, as they can now offer clients consolidated storage solutions that include file storage, object storage, and block storage functionality. Another value-add is the addition of solutions that offer analytics and data visualisation.

Given the huge number of companies still using siloed storage technologies, channel partners can help their customers to optimise their server and network infrastructure to maximise their enterprise storage deployments.

As business requirements change in today’s fast-moving digital era, channel partners have a major role to play in anticipating, forecasting, and addressing the market shift even before the customer registers a need. By aligning IT needs to business objectives, you as a channel partner can orchestrate a host of tools and resources to analyse, evaluate and report on system health and providing personalised recommendations to your clients.

To truly optimise a server and network infrastructure, it’s key to have a comprehensive and resilient approach that integrates existing solutions while simplifying containerisation, software-defined storage and data protection. I believe it is the responsibility of all vendors to help channel partners drive a healthier business. Vendors together with their distribution partners must encourage resellers to get certified to be able to offer their services which helps them create and leverage new growth opportunities while driving their profitability.

That aside, the other issue in addition to storage infrastructure optimisation is s tackling the widening skills gap.

Today, CIOs, IT heads and IT managers are under constant pressure to address and manage growing infrastructure needs. In addition to this, their roles have evolved, and they are expected to become enablers and innovators within their organisations. The fast-changing business environment also requires them to be on top of trends, opportunities and have a thorough understanding of the competitive landscape.

Vendors and distributors that assist their channel partners in building their capabilities and adopting the latest technologies and encourage them to embrace innovative strategies are seeing these efforts pay off not just in sales of the solutions they supply to reseller partners but in building and sustaining long-term partnerships in the channel. This should be the competitive edge that vendors and distributors are offering to channel partners in the enterprise storage sector.

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