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HDS seeds channel with Ingram Micro

HDS joins the race to win smaller businesses through the channel, signing a global distribution deal with Ingram Micro.

Hitachi Data Systems Corp. (HDS) announced it has entered into a global distribution agreement with Ingram Micro Inc., stepping up its efforts to compete in the channel along with the rest of the storage industry.

Earlier this month EMC Corp. unveiled its Insignia brand, a product line aimed squarely at small businesses and sold exclusively through its Velocity small and midsized buiness channel program.

Both companies are shooting for organizations with 250 to 1,000 desktops and little to no SAN expertise in-house. "It's a relatively untapped market today," said Karen Sigman, vice president of worldwide channels at HDS.

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Under the agreement, Ingram Micro will distribute the HDS TagmaStore Workgroup Modular Storage model WMS100 and Adaptable Modular Storage model AMS200, launched last July. The AMS and WMS products include HDS' signature Logical Cache Partitioning and Virtual Storage Ports as well as RAID-6, RAID-5, 1+0 and 1 on both lines.

Furthermore, the AMS200 and WMS100 storage systems have been certified under Microsoft's Simple SAN for Windows Server program. "The cables are all color-coded and the instructions area written in plain English making it easier for small businesses to implement," Sigman said. Installation takes under an hour without onsite assistance, HDS claims. Ingram Micro was reluctant to give out pricing information but noted that it would cost about $8,000 to get started, and that's just for the disk system.

The kits, available in 2 Gbps or 4 Gbps configurations, supposedly include all the hardware and software necessary to connect servers to a first SAN or to extend a SAN from the data center to a distant workgroup. The components include:

  • QLogic SANbox Fibre Channel switch.

  • Two QLogic SANblade Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBA).

  • Cabling to physically connect the SAN.

  • QLogic SANsurfer Express software, which automates the process with wizards and provides one console for managing the switch, HBA and storage system.

    Kevin Murai, president and chief operating officer at Ingram Micro, says he likes having HDS as a partner as it provides an alternative to systems players like Hewlett Packard Co. and IBM. "Having a storage-centric company in the mix was important … we're offering as much choice as we can," he said. An obvious choice would have been EMC Corp., but the Hopkinton-based company already picked Tech Data as its major distribution partner. "They [EMC] are being selective, walking before they can run in terms of who they partner with," Murai said. Ingram Micro carries EMC's Dantz Retrospect backup software, but that's it for now.

    Ingram Micro will focus on marketing HDS's products through its Venture Tech Network of 400 or so value-added resellers (VAR) that tend to be more technically savvy, and its Ingram Micro Services Network, which includes about 650 VARs that specialize in installation and services.

    There's plenty of skepticism in the market over how well companies like EMC and HDS will fare dumbing down their products for small businesses. "It's a strategy that rarely ever works," said Arun Taneja, founder and consulting analyst with the Taneja Group. He notes that EMC's acquisition of Dantz, a backup software company that builds products designed for small businesses, is the right way to go.

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