Gain an Edge in the Channel by Making the Complex Simple

Edge computing can offer an inexpensive "set and forget" solution.

April 29, 2019

5 Min Read
Edge computing


Brian Grainger

Channel-Partners-Insights-logo-300x109.pngBy Brian Grainger, Chief Revenue Officer, StorMagic

While the edge market is relatively new, many edge offerings are already dominating today’s vendor landscape. Edge expertise is the ideal platform to illustrate significant value to customers and guide remote and small data center customers as they navigate through building the best solution for their environments. Consider the state of the market, the unique requirements these customers face and how you can become a leading value-added channel partner to address today’s exploding data creation at the edge.

The IT market has returned to a decentralized computing model, driving the demand for easy-to-use, integrated solutions that can be seamlessly added across multiple sites of an organization. Gartner estimates that 75% of enterprise data will be created and processed outside the primary, centralized data center or cloud by 2022, a staggering figure compared with just 10% today.

Edge sites differ from the data center because they have limited technical resources onsite and desire an inexpensive but comprehensive “set-and-forget” solution that they don’t even have to think about because the technology is so simple to integrate and operate. As an example, consider the IT footprint of a large retail business with thousands of locations, or a financial institution with hundreds of remote/branch offices (ROBO). These decentralized environments deploy thousands of IT systems at individual remote — or edge — locations to locally process, analyze and manage data. Complex solutions that present frequent technical difficulties would be a nightmare for ROBOs: organizations just don’t have the infrastructure or labor to fix a problem, especially when that problem is multiplied by their number of sites. In addition, the cost to staff an individual IT person to manage the equipment at each branch location would be devastating financially, and even drive some organizations out of business.

Economic Benefits

This tipping point introduces an enormous opportunity for channel partners to build solutions for end users that include low-cost, easy-to-manage hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) or software-defined IT infrastructure that virtualizes the elements of conventional “hardware-defined” systems, at the edge. HCI solutions combine storage, compute and networking in a single product, removing pains, limitations and the high costs of traditional data storage, servers and network infrastructure. The economic benefits of HCI at the edge are undeniable, particularly when considering the multiplier of deploying solutions at dozens, hundreds or thousands of sites.

So how do these market trends affect the channel? And how will VARs make the complex simple for their own customers?

VAR life has become complicated because of the sheer number of vendors in today’s IT channel ecosystem. Remember the old saying, “nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”? The label, or vendor logo, on today’s product has become far less important to end users than the interoperability and simplicity of a complete solution. Edge computing end users are pressuring their trusted channel advisers to recommend complete solutions that are easy to install, manage and service.

It is now the channel’s responsibility to accommodate this modern wish list spurred by two key factors: The market as a whole is returning to a decentralized model and end users will no longer tolerate complicated equipment or processes. VARs today must understand these unique environments and make concessions as needed.

VARs on the Edge

The IT VARs that will thrive in the next decade as edge adoption continues to soar are those who …

… integrate simplicity in the following ways:

  •  Offer solutions that are agnostic and cross as many platforms as possible, to provide end users with ultimate flexibility and eliminate vendor lock-in. While today’s vendor market is crowded, it gives the channel an opportunity to find the ideal pieces to build complete solutions on demand. Thriving channel partners will also help their clients avoid over-spending on hardware that is unnecessary in an edge environment.

  •  Find simple, cost-effective solutions that can be rolled out on a mass scale quickly, efficiently and affordably. Deploying one or many thousands of sites should be possible, fast and seamless.

  •  Provide remote ongoing service and maintenance for their edge-based micro-data centers. An IT team shouldn’t be required to visit hundreds or thousands of edge sites; the cost and time commitment required would be astronomical for the end user. Downtime is not an option in the busy worlds of retail, banking and dining, three common industries who rely on the edge.

  •  Offer more pricing models that deliver more flexibility to customers. The IT market as a whole has grown accustomed to perpetual pricing models, but adding a second subscription-based approach would allow users to choose between the ongoing costs, or operating expenses (opex), the development costs for the system, or capital expenses (capex), or both types of savings

Right now, channel partners can extend affordable, enterprise-class solutions (without the price tag) to their key target markets: small data centers and large organizations with many edge sites. But it’s the channel partners who can provide complete, simple, serviceable edge solutions who will stand out, strengthen their market position and multiply their small data center and ROBO customer bases.

In five years’ time, the edge space will become more commoditized, and it will be even easier for customers to set up a full edge computing site. In less than 10 years, edge sites will become the most mission-critical aspect of organizations. VARs must become experts on edge computing now to help make the complex simple for their customers’ edge-based IT networks.

Brian Grainger joined StorMagic in 2019 and currently serves as the company’s chief revenue officer and as a member of the board of directors. With more than 25 years’ experience in the data storage industry, Grainger leads StorMagic’s global sales expansion and advises the board on overall corporate strategy. He previously spent 18 years with Spectra Logic, including the last eight years as its chief sales officer. He has also held sales and management positions at OnStream, Gates/Arrow and Connor Peripherals. Follow him on LinkedIn or on Twitter @BrianonStorage and @StorMagic.

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