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Competition Heating Up in the Mid-Market
According to Gartner, mid-size businesses are continuing to identify operational efficiency and are becoming the leading source of the pressure driving companies to optimize the value they get from their IT investments. And never before has there been so much viable competition in the mid-market among storage vendors.
Silva says a lot of mid-size companies have the benefits of seeing how larger companies have developed their IT infrastructures and being able to determine what works and what doesn’t. “They also are very cost conscious and look to purchase products that don’t lock them into a particular vendor, but rather allow them to build more heterogeneous environments — taking advantage of best of breed solutions from a wider variety of suppliers,” he continues.
To Heumann this means that for SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) to make changes to their storage infrastructure, new storage approaches and products must provide clear ROI advantages when compared to their existing choices. “Additionally,” he continues, “it means that these new storage approaches must compliment and interoperate with the initiatives that SMBs are undertaking to optimize the value that they get from their IT investments.”
And, according to Heumann, the storage industry must finally and completely address the interoperability issues between storage products so that they function together seamlessly, as LAN products do today.
Vendors Can Help Customers Meet Their Challenges
One of the challenges that many mid-size businesses face is that their staff and budgets cannot keep pace with the demands of an ever-growing storage infrastructure. So, what can storage vendors do to help customers with this challenge? Silva says the solution is simple: standards, standards, and more standards, because common ways of managing disparate storage resources would benefit everyone — including storage vendors.
However, Heumann says that the real challenge the mid-size business market raises for SAN vendors is how to provide the same capabilities without the complexity. This, according to Heumann, includes well-thought out bundled solutions that meet the needs of mid-size businesses without significant management demands.
“It also means adding in product features such as no-reboot SAN reconfigurability and simple, intuitive configuration utilities with a Windows or Linux look and feel that minimize the management challenges of networked storage.” Finally, he continues, “we need to work with local VARs and integrators to provide effective support solutions for our customers.”