Pure Storage surfs wave of flash interest

The recently appointed channel chief at Pure Storage is looking to exploit the increasing interest from customers in flash

When it comes to selecting your next job there are always some key criteria that help guide the selection of boxes on the check list that make it easier to select the right opportunity.

For channel executives the things worth thinking about include not just the attitude taken by a future employer towards the indirect model but also the prospects of the technology they sell being a winner and keeping them gainfully employed for years to come.

For Ben Savage, who has a CV including time at Colt, Fujitsu Serices and HP, the prospect of working with resellers came with the job when he agreed to take up the role as EMEA head of channels at Pure Storage.

But what also attracted him to the role was the position of flash storage and the prospects for the technology.

The flash market has been through its fair share of ups and downs as it progresses to the point where the channel can start to pitch it as a widespread option for customers of all shapes and sizes.

For a long time the storage technology was seen as being too expensive and offering the sort of performance  
benefits that only the finance sector and a few other verticals where every second counts would be prepared to pay for it.

But prices have come down, reliability concerns have largely disappeared and more customers are deciding that now is the time to go flash.

That leaves firms like Pure Storage and its channel partners in a position where the market demand is  
Increasing and the pressure is on to get out and educate more customers about the benefits of using the  

Key to getting the message across is to avoid talking about speeds and feeds and to focus on business  

Savage has been in the role for two months but has already noticed that there is a challenge translating the benefits of flash for some SME customers.

Although it has developed proof of concept models and TCO calculators it tends to be the larger firms that have the capability to chart those costs and gauge the impact on budgets.

"When I talk about training and enablement with partners I am not just talking about flash but getting them familiar with the TCO and ROI models to save the business value and we train on business value and not technology," he added "We are helping customers with their three to five year IT budget plans."

Pure recently updated its partner programme and made it clearer using the P3 programme for resellers to understand how they could get value and also made the move to add a second tier to its channel efforts in the UK with the appointment of Arrow in May.

That partnership should bring some new partners on board but the focus is not on adding loads of fresh names to the P3 programme.

Savage has spent his first eight weeks going round and visiting the firm's existing partners and getting a sense of where the channel currently sits and where it is planning to go in the future.

As well as rewarding the existing partner base Savage has also identified an ambition to provide more support to managed service providers, which is where more of its partners are heading.

The P3 programme

Launched in May the Pure Storage programme included:

• Expansion of the “Platinum” partner tier that the company offers in North America to EMEA to accompany the current “Gold” and “Silver” tiers in existence today.

• An incentive framework extended to partners globally that included an increase in MDF available to partners

• Enhancements to the company’s automated, global, transparent deal registration system    

• TCO, marketing and sales tools to help partners stay ahead of the competition

Some of the areas he thinks it could expand include boutique resellers that are looking to provide some flash storage as part of a wider solution and ISVs that are looking to strike alliances and partnerships.

"We want to start defining who some of those partners are and building allowances and validate the user case of flash," he said.

There is plenty to do and eight weeks is not long enough to make too dramatic changes but what seems to be underpinning the Pure Storage is the expansion in the flash market.

Savage is very optimistic about the customer appetite for flash and believes that the hype is over and customer knowledge of the technology is increasing making it a point when it is on the brink of going mainstream.

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