EMC Dantz Builds in
SMB Space"> Give and take For EMC, having skin in the game means upholding and expanding many of the partner programs instituted by Dantz, a small storage and backup provider focused on the SMB space, which EMC acquired in October 2004."One way to look at small-business VARs is that they function as the IT staff to a distributed organization of 2,000 to 5,000 seats, split among all the companies they support," Zulch said. "Whatever you would do to keep an IT staff effective and happy in a 2,000- to 5,000-person company is what you have to provide to VAR partners." Frank Ballatore, president of The New England Computer Group Inc., a VAR catering to businesses with an average of 20 to 30 PCs, has been on the receiving end of EMC Dantzs support. The New England Computer Group, which, by Ballatores admission, doesnt ring up significant annual sales with EMC Dantz, receives priority technical support from the company and obtains regular leads. It also enjoys all-around flexibility in terms of getting what it needswhether its Web-based training or not-for-resale copies of up-and-coming products to test internally before approaching customers. "From Day One, their partner program didnt differentiate between small resellers and large resellerswe got the same level of support," said Ballatore in Ridgefield, Conn. Read more here about relations between vendors and channel partners in todays market. Beyond delivering traditional support and the requisite marketing and training programs, many vendors targeting the SMB space are focusing new channel initiatives on providing platforms on which partners can deliver industry-specific solutions and managed services. IBM, for one, has embraced that approach through its Express Portfolio, a set of 125 prepackaged solutions and services that partners can augment with their own solutions or private label and resell to customers, IBM officials said. New industry additions to the Express Portfolio include medical imaging storage for health care, an RFID (radio-frequency identification) solution for retailers, a PLM (product lifecycle management) solution for manufacturers and a supply chain diagnostic solution for the industrial sector. "What Express does is provide partners with an entree into the marketplace," said Elaine Case, IBMs director of SMB marketing, in Armonk, N.Y. "Weve done research into what their needs are as well as their business challenges and aligned our portfolio to those needs." IBM has also taken numerous other steps to reach out to SMB partners. The reason? Business partners generate approximately half of IBMs revenue in the midmarket, which has averaged 10 percent growth per quarter for the last 10 quarters, Case said. New IBM resources available to VAR partners include the Technology Assessment Tool, which helps prescribe the right blend of technologies to create on-demand infrastructures; the Seller Action Playbook, used to guide customers through real business scenarios; and SMB Infrastructure Insights, a collection of market intelligence and sales and marketing aids to help partners target resiliency and security opportunities. For Digital Union Ltd., a Verticalnet Company that develops supply chain and supplier management applications for the midmarket, the most important piece of IBMs new SMB partner strategy is the Express Portfolio platform, according to Chris Mancuso, director for channel and program sales for the Buffalo, N.Y., company. Express has enabled Digital Union to go to market quickly with its own solutions without expending huge development resources. "Express helps keep our costs down and our profit margins up because we can develop our application on top of a platform thats already built," Mancuso said. "Without it, wed have to have a bigger development staff, which would mean a higher cost of doing business, and wed have less chances of winning in the SMB space." Of course, Digital Union isnt the only one to benefit from the relationship, Mancuso said. IBM gets a solution that serves a particular vertical niche within the SMB spacesomething that wouldnt be possible without its partners. "IBM doesnt make applications that solve business problems," Mancuso said. "We do."
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Now named EMC Dantz, the company is building an ecosystem of partners around the SMB space, starting with providing products that can be easily fashioned into solutions by the channel along with a support and training infrastructure that can scale to assist VARs at all levels, said Larry Zulch, vice president and general manager of EMC Dantz, based in Walnut Creek, Calif.