Can an industry grow and shrink at the same time? An IDC study predicts the number of data centers will peak in 2017; at the same time, the square feet dedicated to data centers will increase through 2018. For value-added resellers (VARs), succeeding in an era of consolidation will require finding new ways of adding value.
Fortunately, the more closely you work with your customers on their data center design plans, the more easily you'll find opportunities. Companies need help with the entire range of their information technology, which spans the cloud, the data center, and their end users' BYOD (“bring your own devices”) equipment. They may need less hardware, but by partnering with customers, VARs can leverage their trust in your advice into consulting and support services.
Partnering Builds Trust
People buy from people they trust, especially when large amounts of money are involved. Data centers are big investments; there's a lot of hype in the tech industry, and customers want to know that the equipment they're buying will meet their needs. When VARs work with them and spend time listening, rather than selling, VARs can understand what factors are driving customer decisions and make proposals that better meet their needs.
This means that VARs shouldn't aim just at getting sales dollars, but helping customers develop a design to reduce CAPEX and meet uptime and other operational objectives.
Partnering Lets You Share Expertise
Keep in mind that most customers aren't experts in data center design. While they may know their high-level equipment needs—how many servers and what storage capacity they require—they don't have the knowledge to determine all the auxiliary equipment required (racks, power equipment, cooling equipment, etc.), how to lay it out effectively, and how to make sure they are provisioned properly in order to handle growth.
And that's for technology that the customers are familiar with. The pace of change in technology means that VARs have expertise that the customers don’t. Companies look to VARs to provide expert knowledge in new technical areas including:
- Big data. Companies are still struggling to find value in big data; the situation isn't helped by a shortage of experts in key software technologies like Hadoop.
- Virtualization. How can they best make use of virtual machines to consolidate servers effectively?
- Cloud computing. Should they eliminate local hardware completely and move to the cloud? Should they rely on the public cloud, a private cloud, or a hybrid solution?
- Networks. How can they provide the necessary bandwidth? How will they manage software-defined networks?
- Security. How can they secure the corporate network, when they don't control cloud or BYOD equipment? What systems do they need in addition to a firewall? What legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements do they need to meet?
- Management tools. Can they reduce the number of tools that they need to manage the data center?
VARs should share their knowledge in order to build the relationship with the customer and also make sure they provide a total solution, not just sell the equipment and services that the company asks about.
Partnering Lets You Plan for Future Engagements
Partnering lets VARs know not only what the customers’ needs are now, but also gives a sneak peek at their future needs, which are your future opportunities. A smart VAR can combine that with knowledge of industry trends to sell the customers things they don't realize they need today plus start prepping the way to sell them the things they'll need tomorrow.
These future engagements don't have to mean just equipment sales, but can also mean warranties, support, and associated services.
Find Your Own Expert Partner
Partnering with your customers on their data center design plans lets you make sure the solution you sell is in the customers’ best interests and helps them succeed. Partner with Ingram to leverage our expertise and get the resources you need to achieve your own success.