When Imation spun off from 3M back in 1996 the company promised that it would evolve its business model well beyond tape. Up until this week fulfilling that promise has been mainly centered on adding security products to the company’s lineup. But with the acquisition of Nexsan, Imation wants channel partners to know the company’s ambitions now include just about every aspect of data management.
As a provider of primary and secondary storage systems Nexsan that sells only through the channel, Nexsan build a reputation for delivering storage systems that make it easy to manage large amounts of data. Most of its sales have gone into small-to-medium (SMB) organizations that have large data requirements, a class of customer that is steadily increasing. In fact, there is almost no correlation anymore between the size of a customer and the amount of data they might need to manage.
Ian Williams, group president for tiered storage solutions at Imation, says it’s that data management problem that is creating a massive opportunity for the channel. Most customers are not only struggling with sheer volume of data they need to manage, many of them are still challenged by distinguishing between what data needs to actually backed up versus archived on low cost storage medium. For all the talk about the elimination of tape, Williams notes that from an archival perspective tape is still the most cost effective medium around. Williams says the addition of Nexsan to the Imation lineup creates an opportunity for channel partners to have an end-to-end conversation about data management with customers that are increasingly looking for hybrid solutions that encompass multiple kinds of data storage technologies. Best of all, says Williams, Imation is 100 percent channel so there won’t be any confusion about who is selling any given set of products or technologies.
Between the advent of inexpensive cache memory systems that can be directly into server to the use of data management services in the cloud the range of data storage options that are available to customers have never been greater. At the same time, however, there probably has never been more confusion about what data storage technology should be applied when to solve a specific need.
Just as importantly from a channel perspective, the whole data management sector is evolving quickly, especially in the area of automation. New data storage products can not only handle more data than their predecessors at much higher performance levels, they are significantly easier to manage.
The acquisition of Nexsan is not likely to be the last major storage deal that the channel is likely to hear about in the months ahead. Vendors across the board are trying to better strategically align their offerings to take advantage of a vibrant storage market that is being driven by an explosion in the total amount of data that needs to be managed. But the best news of all is that from a channel perspective most of that all data is growing at rates beyond the capabilities of the average IT organization’s ability to effectively manage.