The vast array of providers and data management solutions that organisations are faced with can be daunting – from outright ownership models to a combination of ownership and subscription models to pure service provider offerings – and the market is continuously evolving.
Deciding on the right data management partner can be extremely tricky, and in order to make the right choice, there are a number of important considerations for organisations to consider before making a commitment.
At the same time, partners are also struggling to choose the right vendor, based on the sheer volume of offerings in the market. The landscape was much less complex five years ago, when most partners had their preferred vendor, worked quite closely with them and it was fairly easy to position their technology.
However, the pace at which technology and data management solutions are evolving has made it difficult for partners to keep up with all the new offerings, especially in terms of skills. Additionally, customers are becoming more informed about new offerings in the market, forcing traditional partners, that used to focus on a specific product, to start skilling up on other vendor offerings or platforms to ensure that their customers are not left behind.
The sheer volume of data management offerings that is flooding the market has also led to some margin erosion, forcing partners to pick their battles very carefully. Essentially, they are all chasing the same accounts and each one is trying to show different value to the customers, so the products that partners in the channel space tend to stick to are typically those that still fall within a healthy margin spectrum.
For data management vendors, choosing the right partners for their product offerings can be as complicated, but any vendor-partner relationship must be underpinned by absolute trust. Vendors share their business models with the partner, and in turn, they trust that the partner will not share this with their competitors.
Reputation is key. Successful data management partners – those that been around for a while – usually build up an extremely good reputation with their customers, and data management is all about trust. Customers must rest assured that if they have an outage, the partner will be there for them.
Aspects to consider
On the other hand, as a vendor, the last thing you want is to be seen supporting a fly-by-night partner who leaves behind a mess for you to clean up. So, it is crucial that you make sure you are aligned with a partner that is reputable and has a good understanding of the data management market.
When onboarding a partner, vendors should look at these five aspects:
- What is their influence in the market?
- Do they have a broad reach in their relevant region?
- Do they have the capacity to get skilled on new products and the motivation to build a pipeline and business model around a product?
- Do they have competent staff within their team?
- What is their level of commitment?
Also, agile management is important. A good partner must be able to adapt quickly to new circumstances within an account, be able to make clear decisions, and demonstrate strong execution. If you are going to invest money into a partner’s environment through business development funds, you want to see the execution.
Ultimately though, make sure that you have a proper exit strategy in place that ensures that both partner and vendor understand that, should either one become unhappy with the other, there is the option to break ties and walk away.
By Gerhard Fourie, District Channel Manager for Commvault in South Africa