In an earlier blog post entitled Handicapping Small Storage Vendors I mentioned the competition between the Big Seven IT vendors, who are going after – and are very dependent upon – business from the Global 2000, aka the largest business customers on the planet. (The Big Seven are HP, IBM, Dell, Cisco, Oracle, EMC and NetApp. The last two are primarily focused on storage but have nonetheless positioned themselves as vendors to the Global 2000.) In order to offer a “one throat to choke” posture to very large customers, all seven offer very broad product lines, sometimes numbering in the thousands of products. I once worked as a sales rep for one of the larger of these companies and I was supposedly focused on storage and backup solutions. In fact my title was “Storage Specialist.” I had eighteen different product lines to sell. Not eighteen products – eighteen product lines, some with dozens of individual products. While I pride myself on being a pretty sharp guy, it was impossible to have any great depth of knowledge of more than a few of them. I once heard a fellow Storage Specialist make an observation that really stuck with me. He said “We’re a mile wide and an inch deep.”
Large enterprise customers can afford teams of IT people with very specialized responsibilities – servers, networking, storage, backup, etc. This narrow focus allows them to develop the expertise and skills to cope with complex solutions that are sometimes not well supported by the Big Seven. In other words the customer can afford to compensate for the lack of depth at the vendor. Conversely, IT personnel at small & medium enterprises (or SMEs) are more commonly generalists due to smaller staffing capacity, and are often charged with learning and supporting the multiple types of technology that enable businesses to be competitive in today’s world. I meet many of these jack-of-all-trades IT guys as part of my day-to-day business life and am constantly impressed with the level of service they deliver to their businesses. I am also very aware of the massive amount of work that is sometimes required to keep things running smoothly.
Although the Big Seven offer some solutions that are aimed at the SME customer, their field-level expertise and technical support abilities often fall short. This leaves an opportunity gap that is being amply filled by smaller storage and backup vendors who offer solutions that are simpler to install and use, while still having robust, enterprise-class features. In fact many of these solutions offer performance, capacity and security innovations that the Big Seven aren’t able to. These solutions are also backed by very responsive, knowledgeable support teams. And oh by the way, the prices are pretty great too.
SME customers would do well to look beyond the Big Seven when in need of a new storage and/or backup solution. The challenge is finding the right solution from a vendor that will be around for the long haul. See my earlier blog post entitled Handicapping Small Storage Vendors for advice on how to do just that. Southern Data Storage offers a very select line card of solutions from some of these smaller, more robust, more responsive vendors, wrapped up with our own passionate commitment to customer service. To learn more about how these solutions can make an IT storage and/or backup environment simpler and less expensive while also boosting performance and security, click the “Contact” link above, or call us at 813 655 3282.