HP’s December 3rd announcement marks the end of an era for one of the most loved storage systems in the market, the EVA. When a product has seen over 110,000 installations and 10 years of acceptance, the replacement is always a tricky transition for the end users and the vendor. The end user is faced with changing processes and procedures, while the vendor is training the field / channel and protecting their turf. However, for the channel it is an opportunity. Most channel partners have long term relationships with their clients on which they have built their business. This has been done with the understanding that relationships are not built on a transaction, but a long term commitment to the client’s business, where they have provided advice, products and support across many technologies.
Enter in the EVA, one of the original virtual storage devices that has been a sweet, profitable product line for the partner. All technology must come to its end with tired architecture and depreciated values. So, at last, HP has a direction for those firms who are ready to migrate off the EVA — the 3Par StoreServ 7000. It carries the bells and whistles of the big daddy 3Par (all the advanced efficiency / performance boosters: tiering, VMware APIs, flash, pooling, thin provisioning and more), scaled down in size and price to meet the needs of the mid-market. HP has appropriately focused on easing the migration (see the tools and guides on process and migration), and training of the channel. While much more still needs to be done (demo units in the field, online play time for the channel partner SE’s) over the next few years we will see most of the 110,000+ units migrate.
Now for the opportunity: HP channel partners who have maintained their customer relationships will find they are in a fortunate and trusted position to educate the customer and begin planning for conversion. This is especially true if they are purveyors of several lines of storage products and do not approach the customer with “one size (in this case product) meets all needs.” The HP announcement gives the channel partner the opportunity to review options with the client, discuss the economic value of new technologies and the varied approaches, and work on an IT architecture strategy. It is opportunity to ask the broader questions – what is the virtual server scale out plan – and the impact of the current storage or other technologies? Is there a direction for internal cloud offering – how does that impact the current storage? What other apps or company changes will be coming online which need to be considered in the planning? These questions lead to broader discussions on how the product selection impacts the business, avoiding the bit and byte technology presentation (AKA death by PowerPoint).
In addition, channel partners have the opportunity to develop services for the migration of data and the migration of processes to accompany the transition. This includes data protection, as with every primary storage installation, data protection should be addressed with the planning of the migration, not 9 months later as an after-thought.
Bottom-line, the HP partners should look at this as an opportunity to engage in planning with their customer. It is not about “let me show you my cool new widget,” (though 3PAR StoreServ 7000 is cool). Rather about conversations -110,000 of them. So let’s get talking, asking questions and of course, listening.