Cisco Develops Channel Strategy In Pursuit Of Projected $5 Billion SAN Market

A SAN boot camp will prepare Cisco partners to present industry-specific storage solutions

June 29, 2004

3 Min Read
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Cisco has set its sights on Storage Area Networking, and it is looking for a few good partners to tackle a market that could surpass the $5 billion mark by the end of the decade. In announcing its new storage networking specialization, company officials say the company will provide a structured training roadmap and verification process to support solution providers as they plan, design, implement and support intelligent SAN solutions based on Cisco technology. Cisco will be on the specific lookout for channel partners that have strong vertical industry practices.

The initiative will be integrated into Cisco's Original Storage Manufacturer (OSM) strategy -- which supports companies that develop storage solutions on the Cisco MDS 9000 platform. Cisco will, in fact, require channel partners who are interested in the storage specialization to have a resale relationship with at least one of its OSM partners.

The storage networking specialization is part of a series of channel partnership opportunities that Cisco has developed -- there are now approximately 15 such specializations.

But the SAN market is one of the hottest emerging markets that can be pursued today. As organizations in both the private and public sector rethink the role of storage in their enterprise systems, executives are developing much more flexible strategies for supporting the distributed computing architectures that require real-time access to a wide variety of stored information resources.

The more traditional approaches to this market (direct attached storage or DAS) have tended to silo stored information and feed data only to the systems to which they are connected. Many believe that SANs offer an opportunity to break down those silos " in much the same way Web services applications are connecting legacy server systems that were once considered too costly to integrate.The appeal of storage networks is great, and the potential market very broad. According to analysts at Forrester Research, small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) have a hearty appetite for new storage technology, with 65 percent of respondents to a survey published earlier this year indicating plans to purchase new storage equipment.

And in the overall United States the market revenue of SAN systems will exceed the combined value of network attached storage (NAS) and direct attached storage (DAS) shipments in 18 of 20 vertical markets by 2007, according to new research from IDC. (The two exceptions are the utilities and retail industries where DAS already has a strong presence.)

With the forecast of the storage market growth so bright, many industry observers believe that the opportunity for system integrators (SIs) and value-added resellers (VARs) is substantial. This is because storage solutions are becoming more sophisticated -- and therefore more conceptually complex; they require a consultative sales approach and a better understanding of the customers' applications and business needs. That is why within the next three years IDC expects that most major storage systems vendors will need to develop additional indirect-sales routes through qualified resellers to help meet the growing demand for SAN solutions among end-user companies of all sizes.

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