SELLING ENTERPRISE STORAGE
Enterprise storage can be complex and difficult to manage. However, using server virtualisation technology to manage storage simplifies administration and boosts performance. How can solution providers develop some mastery in the enterprise storage space?
The enterprise storage market in the Middle East has been the star turn in a technology hardware sector that has otherwise continued to witness lethargic growth sales and a decline in margins. A combination of demand for infrastructure to help manage the ever-growing data mountain, and the rise of virtualisation, big data and analytics technology, which has helped organisations to simplify administration and boost performance, has kept things ticking over nicely for solution providers serving the enterprise storage market.
Now, with a new generation of solid-state storage options emerging from global multinationals, from consumer-level flash drives to highly-specified flash-based arrays for enterprise data centres, a tide of opportunity is sweeping through the Middle East enterprise storage market. The need for secure but costeffective storage solutions have never been greater, as the adoption of the latest technology is easing provisioning and reducing complexity in the data centre. This industry pundits say is opening up opportunities the regional channel.
Analyst IDC said the worldwide converged systems market revenue increased 9.9% year over year to $3.5bn during the second quarter of 2018.
“Data centre infrastructure convergence remains an important investment driver for companies around the world,” said Sebastian Lagana, research manager, Infrastructure Platforms and Technologies at IDC. “HCI solutions helped to drive second quarter market expansion thanks, in part, to their ability to reduce infrastructure complexity, promote consolidation, and allow IT teams to support an organisation’s business objectives.”
Charbel Zreiby, senior manager, Channel Specialty Sales – META at Dell EMC, said storage forms a critical pillar in any IT transformation strategy.
Zreiby said according to a report by Future Market Insights, the Middle East data storage market is expected to register a CAGR of
14.4% till 2025.
He said what the report demonstates is the fact that organisations are keen on increasing their investments in transforming their storage infrastructure and powering IT operations with a modern data centre, which is essential for the delivery of new levels of scale and performance. “In this environment, Dell EMC is capitalising on its strength and expertise as a purpose-built solution powerhouse to help channel partners and their organisations across all sectors who may be seeking to transform their digital landscape with a strong storage foundation,” he said.
Savitha Bhaskar, COO, Condo Protego, said the Middle East’s enterprise storage market is rapidly growing for the year ahead and beyond.
According to Bhaskar, enterprise storage is a pillar of digital transformation, for storing, securing and managing data’s exponential growth.
She said storage virtualisation and softwaredefined data centres are removing business complexity and are the next step in storage evolution for the majority of workloads. “With virtualisation, organisations no longer need to go through complex data migrations,” she said.
Jithin Varghese, senior solution architect at Dubai-based distributor VAD Technologies, said the enterprise storage market in the Middle East between 70% matured compared to the tier one countries in Western Europe and North America. “For the past two years, we have experienced remarkable growth compared to previous years especially in the hybrid and all flash storage,” he said. “In future, we expect another 15% to 20% growth for the all flash and NVME storage market due to the exponential growth of high performance needed workload project such as IoT, AI and analytics.”
Given that the enterprise storage boom is undeniable largely, solution providers in the regional channel still face challenges.
According to Condo Protego’s Bhaskar, most Middle East solutions providers do not have the expertise for different types of spe- cialised storage. “Specialised storage channel partners, such as Condo Protego, can correctly identify the type of storage for each business use case,” she remarked.
She added that in the Middle East, the market is seeing strong demand for Dell EMC’s flash storage solutions, which are now being deployed with majority of new storage requirements and is especially useful in optimising costs.
Rajiv Prasad, chief innovation catalyst, Xpandretail, said the cost incurred in providing and utilising optimal enterprise storage solutions in high. “The cost is incurred in terms of time and money spent in training the staff,” he said. “In the case of small to medium enterprises it is simpler to use enterprise storage solutions, but as the size of the firm increases the data generated also increases and hence it becomes difficult to maintain effective and efficient collection and storage of data.”
Zreiby agreed with Prasad on the increasing costs of enterprise storage solutions and said that: “We live in a time of change and solution
We live in a time of change and solution providers have to also transform in order to be able to provide the right storage solutions to their customers.
CHARBEL ZREIBY, SENIOR MANAGER,
CHANNEL SPECIALTY SALES – META,
DELL EMC Enterprise storage is a pillar of digital transformation, for storing, securing and managing data’s exponential growth.
SAVITHA BHASKAR, COO, CONDO PROTEGO For the past two years, we have experienced remarkable growth compared to previous years especially in the hybrid and all flash storage.
JITHIN VARGHESE, SENIOR SOLUTION
ARCHITECT, VAD TECHNOLOGIES
have to also transform in order to be able to provide the right storage solution to their customers.”
Zreiby said it’s no longer about offering a capacity and or certain performance metrics, it’s more about understanding where the customer is in their IT transformation journey and how to help them build the ideal solution that will provide the desired business outcomes. “This means solutions providers should equip themselves with the right capabilities that will help them cover any solution from the application (cloud or native) down to the infrastructure layers such as storage and data protection,” he said.
With a new breed of storage solutions providers entering the enterprise storage market traditional systems integrators, value-added resellers (VARs) and ISVs have had to up their solutions game to stay abreast with what’s happening in the market.
Haseeb Soleja, MD, Newras Technologies DMCC, said the storage solutions ball game is definitely evolving and there is extreme probability of being run over by a new breed of stor- age solutions providers as systems integrators, VARs and ISVs realise the potential of selling storage in a market which continues to double and in some cases treble year on year (YOY). “Some of them have names suggesting they do only storage and nothing else but this could be a misnomer,” he noted.
Soleja pointed out that recently the Newras team was meeting with a major German multinational company in Dubai and the customer kept saying that they would like to go for all flash for their storage. “This suggests that enterprise flash-storage is what clients’ desire as the preferred storage solutions in their data centres,” he said.
He said the Middle East market is not averse to a worldwide trend which has moved towards flash storage as it has become more cost effective than before and provides more speed and performance. “Enterprise flash storage use cases are one too many, wherever random data reads are required which include and not restricted to online transactional processing (OLTP), online analytical processing (OLAP), applications using databases (Data warehousing solutions, content management,” he said.
Bhaskar added that every Middle East industry sector is adopting flash storage, and every company uses some level of flash storage. However, observed Bhaskar, there is a huge storage skills challenge. “Channel partners need to understand that enterprise storage is not a commodity and not all storage solutions are equal,” he said. “Channel partners need to understand storage performance, protection and reliability. In the enterprise storage space, Middle East channel partners need to offer more value across accurate consultancy, the correct solutions for the correct use cases, and support customers post-installation.”
As skills continue to be a huge challenge in the enterprise storage market, Dell EMC’s Zreiby said the evolution in the storage technologies continues at an accelerated rate and training on the latest trends and strategies is a must otherwise channel organisations risk becoming irrelevant or outdated compared to other certified partners. “We work continuously with all our partners to attain trainings and certifications on a regular basis in order for them to stand out and gain a competitive edge within their markets,” he said. “This helps the partners have their sales and preproviders sales team transform into certified champions who can fully own the sales cycle thus giving them an edge to lead with those technologies into the market.
Prasad said the skills required in the utilisation of the enterprise storage market are technical in nature hence the reliance on employee training becomes imperative. As the complexity and reliance on enterprise storage is increasing the need for employees with design and management skills also increases. “Employees should not only be able to manoeuvre out of problems in the enterprise storage but must also be able to guide their customers,” he said.
Looking ahead, Zreiby said digital transformation is driving a massive shift in technology, unprecedented data growth and increasing security threats which is driving organisations to transform their critical infrastructure.
The skills required in the utilisation of the enterprise storage market are technical in nature hence the reliance on employee training becomes imperative. As the complexity and reliance on enterprise storage is increasing the need for employees with design and management skills also increases.RAJIV PRASAD, CHIEF INNOVATION CATALYST,XPANDRETAIL
The storage solutions ball game is definitely evolving and there is extreme probability of being run over by a new breed of storage solutions providers.HASEEB SOLEJA, MD, NEWRAS TECHNOLOGIESDMCC