In an attempt to shed its image as too expensive for the SMB market, EMC has unveiled storage solutions aimed at small and medium-sized businesses across Canada.

The company is offering solutions in four areas: archiving, e-mail, backup and recovery, and network storage. Prices for the solutions

start at US$5,995.

“”EMC has been perceived in the mid-market space as too expensive and complex,”” said Michael Kerr, EMC’s director of Canadian channels. “”And we’re working hard to show that we are very affordable, we are cost effective, and now easier to do business with from a partner perspective.””

The new solutions will be a central part of an enhanced partner program EMC is launching in April. As part of its Velocity Channel Partner program, channel programs and products from the companies it has acquired in the last three years, including Legato, Documentum and Dantz are being amalgamated.

The upgraded program will provide all partners who offer EMC, hardware, software and services with access to a consistent set of training programs and incentives.

EMC has spent in excess of US$6 billion on acquisitions and research and development over a three-year period.

Howard Goldberg, CEO of SkyData Corp. — an EMC distributor —is encouraged that EMC is starting to leverage its acquisitions to the benefit of resellers and their customers in Canada.

“”The thing that I see as most significant here is this is the first time we’ve seen the amalgamation of a channel program, but you also see products being amalgamated,”” he said. “”Every one of these scenarios — whether it’s consolidation, backup recovery, archiving — you see the power and the impact of the acquisitions that EMC as made.””

Goldberg expects EMC to continue integrating its product line. “”Virtually every one of the companies that EMC has acquired has a component here,”” he said. “”That’s a pretty powerful sort of thing to put forth in the marketplace, and I see this as the beginning of what undoubtedly will be tighter and tighter integration. I find that most exciting,”” he added.

Kerr said the new solutions will appeal to SMBs with limited budgets because the solutions are “”future proof,”” meaning they are easily scaleable.

“”When a client buys (a solution) they’re not buying something they’ll have to discard in a couple of years,”” he explained.

“”The client makes an investment in a base and then with the partner’s assistance can grow it into the future without adding an extensive amount of new capital every time you want to enhance or grow what you’ve invested in,”” he said.

Kerr also said the challenges facing storage solution providers in the SMB market are similar to those facing enterprise businesses. He said information growth, increased competitiveness and governance have made affordable storage solutions a requirement of all businesses. Enterprise companies, however, can afford an IT department with a higher skill-set than SMBs.

In this case, said Kerr, it’s up to resellers to provide the skills SMBs can’t afford in their employees.

“”The benefit here is that the partner brings the necessary skill in order to implement storage solutions as it relates to business and they can augment limited investment in a skill that is not necessary on an ongoing basis,”” he said.

As for EMC resellers, Goldberg has a couple of pieces of advice for them as they bring the new solutions to clients. First, Goldberg said VARs need to identify the “”tell-tale signs of a storage opportunity”” and pinpoint the need of the customer.

Second, he said VARs must recognize that the new solutions will enable them to customize solutions to meet the needs of their clients.

According to Goldberg, SkyData’s channel strategy won’t be affected by the new EMC offerings. “”Our strategy will be very much has it always been, applied to a new marketplace,”” he said.

“”Many of our VARs have been targeting SMBs, but have asked us for solutions that are more appropriately targeted for that SMB space. Here is our opportunity to bring those kinds of solutions for about US$6,000. This is not necessarily an expensive proposition.””

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