TORONTO–A network storage company opened its Canadian subsidiary Tuesday and is looking for select resellers to help capture part of the $850 million market.

This marks a change in philosophy for the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based, Network Appliance Inc.

“We handled Canada much like many fast-growing American companies. We put some sales people in the west, we put some sales people in the east, we went out and talked to customers, we added some SIs, and really treated Canada as a 51st state,” says Canadian general manager Jeff Goldstein.

“I know where Duncan, B.C. is. We can relate to each other a bit better than some of the folks in Sunnyvale.”

Goldstein says it is committed to Canadian market and channel (it has been operating in Canada since 1996) and cites the hiring of a national channels manager and doubling its staff as proof. He would not say how many employees there are in Canada, but says the Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa and Mississauga offices have more than a receptionist.

Goldstein says there is a crucial difference between the two countries in where it expects sales to come from.

“In Canada, I believe that 50 per cent of revenue will be through the channel, whereas in the States it’s probably closer to 20 per cent,” he says.

“In Canada it is very much a relationship sale. A little different than New York City where if you have a good product and it’s the right price we’ll do a deal today. In Canada we’re a bit more conservative and frankly customers want to understand what the relationship is in addition to the technology, and there are a number of resellers in Canada who have very strong relationships with customers and we’re going to leverage off those relationships.”

There are currently two Network Appliance Canada Ltd. resellers — Ottawa-based Rebel.Com and Zentra Computer Technologies Inc. in Calgary. While it plans to open an office in Montreal, it doesn’t yet have a staff presence east of Ottawa or in the Prairies.

Goldstein says there is a lot of growth and margin in storage.

“I believe there are several resellers in the Canadian landscape who have woken up to this, and have staffs to provide storage services: things like storage assessment, storage architectures, high available and clustering, backup and recovery strategy and disaster recovery are all part of information management,” says Goldstein.

But before any of this can happen potential end-users need to be educated. Goldstein says together they need to help customers learn the difference between storage area networks, network attached storage, and direct attached storage.

“What we aren’t going to do is give it some of the resellers whose view is ‘Mr. Customer, what do you want to buy?'” says Goldstein.

“We’re going to make this a margin play, not a volume play.”

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