Corporate events organisers say that the more mundane an industry is, the wilder will their parties be.
Funeral directors are supposed to be wild once they’re not in mourning mode. By the same token, you would expect data centre stalwarts to be a crazy bunch with a vivid imaginations. If you’re spending all day incarcerated in a data prison camp, with nothing for company except refrigerated servers imprisoned in row upon row of grey metal cabinets, a sense of humour might help get you through the day.
On one US press trip I visited Alcatraz Prison and was struck me by the similarity to data centres I’ve visited. They are both ringed by razor wire on the outside, surrounded by a water cooling system and uniformed perimeter guards. The one big difference was that the inhabitants of Alcatraz coped with the brutal conditions through the vividness of their imaginations. On the tour we were told of the ingenious ways they created their own virtual worlds, inside their heads, clever ways to communicate with each other and endlessly inventive escape plans.
With that in mind, you’d expect data centre professionals to have a gung ho attitude, brilliant communications skills and gallows humour. You’d expect they would have time to think of a million different ways of describing what they do, should anyone ever ask them.
This week I spotted two data centre companies looking for channel partners in the UK. How inspiring would they be? How hard would they try to bring the subject alive? You be the judge.
Meanwhile, Park Place Technologies is looking for UK channel partners to sell its hardware maintenance services to more or less the same people. Security services sound a bit more exciting than hardware maintenance, don’t they? But which company did I find more inspiring? The answer may surprise you!
GuardiCore has appointed Exclusive Networks to push its Centra Security ‘platform’ which will empower partners to deliver professional and managed security services to provide specialised and differentiated solutions to their customers.
They talk of the growth and sophistication of attacks, mounting consequences of a breach, integration of business processes, ongoing transition to the clouds and partners aligning their business to a more service-oriented approach.
Meanwhile Evan Kenty, Park Place Technologies’s VP for EMEA, explained how OEMs have locked down their technology and killed the margins on reselling hardware.
This imprisonment of functions has sparked creativity in PPT’s channel culture, says Kenty.
“Application-based software is pre-built in hardware systems, so vendors have to improvise by creating a broader range of services and more competitive incentive plans,” says Kenty.
A reseller has to know the customer’s business a lot better and be the first to offer them new ways of improving heir business. So PPT offers training in this. What’s refreshing is that they reject all the conventional wisdom about the silliness of ‘server huggers’.
At the last count by IDC (in Q3 last year) sales of external storage market grew by 10%. This bucks a market trend because it’s the first increase in storage sales for two-and-a-half years.
All-flash and hybrid storage were the biggest sellers. This fact, along with steady server sales and the entrance of new vendors into the server market tells us that customers are in no rush to stop server hugging.
Which is great news if you sell hardware maintenance and support services to data centres. Their storage, servers and networking equipment are going to keep the money rolling in for you. “We love server huggers,” say Kenty.
“We make sure the server estates of our customers are supported for as long as they want to keep them,” says Kenty
Should a customer want to transition to the cloud, perhaps via a service provider, resellers can help maintain their server estate. Agility is another lazy cliche that needs to be challenged. PPT helps customers who can’t move their data to the cloud because of privacy or security issues - like medical providers and legal offices.
Third Party Maintenance (TPM) services to end users are the new high-margin offering. With a bit of light training you can soon be up to speed on PPT’s practices and specific offerings.
An account manager will then work with you to make sure your solutions are right for each end user. You get full access to channel reps, and can bring them in during the sales process when needed.
The biggest challenge to the data centre industry will be that it’s scarcest resource is people. Especially ones with any wit and imagination. But it sounds like working with PPT can bring you wealth and good fortune.
Just don’t lose your sense of humour, please!