ESG Practice Lead Kevin Rhone and Practice Director Mark Peters discuss some of the recent changes in the storage industry, and how these changes will impact channel partners.
Voiceover: The following is an ESG 360° video.
Kevin: Hi, this is Kevin Rhone, Practice Director for ESG's Channel Acceleration practice. I'm joined by Mark Peters today, who is the Director of ESG's Infrastructure practice. Hi, Mark.
Mark: Hey, hi Kevin.
Kevin: In the lead-up to EMC World, Mark and I had an opportunity to chat about the changing world of storage, infrastructure, and the implications for the partnering ecosystem. You know, Mark, you've said many times that the storage world is constantly changing, and that hasn't been any different in 2016. What's your 20,000-foot view of that world today?
Mark: Well, rather than just giving you my opinion, Kevin, I want to talk about some research that we recently did, our storage trends market research. And the reason that's relevant is, we asked people who understand storage what they expect to happen over the next five years. Ninety percent expect their dominant method of delivering storage functionality to be hyper-convergent, software-defined storage, or something to do with cloud in some manner or other. That's not just changing technologies and media, that's changing how you do storage. And that's what makes it, really, quite such a compelling area right now, obviously not just for those users, but I want you to comment, Kevin, on what that means for the channel and the partner ecosystem.
Kevin: That's really good research, Mark. And I think, as you know, we maintain an advisory partner research panel, and in our conversations with them, they see a number of the same changes. Of course, storage products and revenue will still be significant and important for them, but increasingly, it's being integrated into a set of complete solutions that really require them to up their game, add additional components, and become more skilled in a number of different ways of integrating storage into a complete solution that they deliver for their customers.
Mark: What end-users are really buying is applications, capabilities. Right now, if you look at our general spending intentions research, you will see that at the top of the list are things like analytics and security. Those are things that require an overall IT package to be sold, and that is more than just storage, or networking, or computer, or anything else, and that's why partners are so valuable.
Kevin: I absolutely agree, Mark. We see that partners are increasingly needing to become much more savvy about how they add services and how they integrate those into a total solution. Does your research give you any insight into how storage-focused vendors are adapting their businesses to accommodate this change?
Mark: I think the quickest answer to that is, you increasingly see, not just them reaching out to partners more from the sales process, but increasingly, you can't compete in this business unless you've got lots of partners on the back end. And what I mean by that, obviously, is for reference architectures, joint ventures, the ability to sell a more extended solution. But it still doesn't typically go as far as what you're telling me partners can really do, which is to sell the complete package. It's great to improve from just selling disks to selling a disk system, to selling a storage system. But even a storage system isn't sufficient when you're really trying to sell outcomes and support applications, I think. Does that make sense to you?
Kevin: Yes, absolutely. Those are really good points. And again, from the perspective of the members of our panel, they are gravitating towards vendors that provide three things for them: an expansive vision of where their products are going, how they're fitting into a complete solution; training certification supported by shadowing in the field to allow those partners to develop specializations around the systems and the components that go into it; and then, the ability of vendors to collaborate and work with the partners to help them deliver a set of services that wrap around the products and technology to allow them to sell those classic business outcomes that their customers are looking for.
Well, thanks again for joining me today, Mark. We're really excited about the upcoming EMC World and talking further with customers, partners and vendors alike. See you in Las Vegas.