Western Digital launches new partner program for enterprise channel

The merged entity of WD, Hitachi Global Storage Technology and SanDisk opens new products and business avenues for channels, says Vivek Tyagi, Director Sales, Western Digital India.

Western Digital Sep 25th 2018 A-A+
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Western Digital’s acquisition of Hitachi Global Storage Technology and SanDisk  is transforming the company from a hardware player to a company focusing on enterprise storage and flash storage. Vivek Tyagi, Director Sales - India Region, Western Digital, shares insights into the new channel partner program and how it aims to create awareness and incentivize enterprise channel partners. 

Could you elaborate on the new channel partner program and how it works for India? 

Western Digital in the past was more focused on the hard drive business; in the recent couple of years, the merger of the three companies – Western Digital, Hitachi Global Storage Technology and SanDisk  has been complete. Hitachi Global Storage Technology is completely enterprise focused and SanDisk  has always been a combination of both enterprise flash storage and retail consumer flash storage products. 

For this combined entity, we have rolled out a new channel partner program in India to motivate enterprise partners to sell complete systems, platforms and devices. For starters, we have built a partner registration process through a dedicated webpage on Western Digital website for our partners to register as an enterprise channel partner. After a partner is registered in the new registration program, there are three categories of products. 

The first category is “Devices”, which comprise of the hard drive and flash drives for the data center and the enterprise market. The second category is ‘Platforms’. These are JBODs (Just a Bunch Of Drives) or JBOF (Just a Bunch of Flash Drives) & Storage Servers. Essentially it is a collection of devices but without any software included in it and these products are targeted at organizations that use the open source software along with the storage software from us. The third category of products is “Systems” which comprise of complete storage systems that includes hardware, software, server and storage.

... The earlier programs were for hard drive market. Hence the need for a comprehensive channel partner program that includes new products in the offering and new markets on our radar. The aim now is to motivate the enterprise channel partners across India to engage with us more than in the past.
Vivek Tyagi
Director Sales - India Region, Western Digital

What was the need for a new program? Was it solely because of the merger and the revamped image of the company?

There was of course the merger of three companies. The range of offerings in entirety is very different and quite elaborate now. Earlier our channel partners were focused on selling WD hard drives. Those programs continue independently, but this new program is targeted more towards the enterprise channel partners, who focus on the market of enterprise storage and enterprise server. We have a new direction, new roadmap and we acquired another company called Tegile, which is an All-Flash Array storage startup based out of the US. 

The earlier programs were for hard drive market. Hence there was a need for a comprehensive channel partner program that included the new products in the offering and the new markets on our radar. The aim now is to motivate the enterprise channel partners to engage with us more than in the past. 

Are you training or incentivizing training for your channel partners with skillsets aligned with newer products? How do you evaluate them?

Western Digital has a global research and development center at Bangalore, with approximately 2000 engineers that includes 400 to 500 engineers working in the area of enterprise. Partners who register on our website are also invited to the center which has state of the art labs and all the products we spoke about are also partly developed there. We bring these digital channel partners and identify people from their teams to conduct technical training for them. This is followed by lab tours and even hands-on training to help the teams to get certified to install the products at their customer end. We want to multiply our force in the field through channel partners and their teams. 
 
In terms of evaluation, some of the products require systematic skills in our partners. Hence in the first phase, we are more inclined to recruit those partners who have these skills for them to be trained and certified to install our products.

All-Flash gaining huge momentum in India : Vivek Tyagi

1

Increase in demand for All-Flash because the new apps are demanding more performance from the IT infra.

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4G in terms of networking infrastructure is prevalent and advent of 5G will catalyze the trend.

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With huge bandwidth in the network, the back end ability to handle colossal amount of traffic will go up.

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SanDisk is one of the world’s five companies that has built All-Flash right from the silicon level.

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Merger of SanDisk and WD gives cost structure advantage to our customers as well as to usual demand-supply cycles in All-Flash.

 

Western Digital’s OpenFlex seems to be catching up news in global market. What is the specific demand or trend that you see for OpenFlex in India? 

OpenFlex is new architecture we just announced a few months back. Western Digital's family of OpenFlex fabric-attached products will be offered in a variety of performance levels and capacities to enable data center architects and IT managers to purpose-build a scalable and flexible data center for their unique needs.  

At present it is really a new offering in the market including India. More than demand, there is strong interest amongst people to learn more about it. We are only in the education phase now as the products will be rolled out later this year by December. Right now, it is more about creating awareness around this new architecture in the market. We believe that Cloud service providers and e-commerce players would be the first ones to adopt this new architecture – OpenFlex.

How is the storage landscape changing with technologies like All-Flash and Hyperconverged Infrastructure coming into play in India? 

HCI (Hyperconverged Infrastructure) is definitely a big trend gaining momentum in the traditional enterprise storage space. Some HCI companies now have a software-only option as well that allows the organizations to choose any hardware or storage underneath it. In that perspective we are participating in HCI as we have launched a storage server product. It is a high performance server that hosts lot of storage and this storage server fits well in HCI space. 

We see an increased demand across all verticals for All-Flash. This is mainly because the new applications are demanding more performance from the IT infra. 4G in terms of networking infrastructure is very prevalent across the country and the advent of 5G will catalyze the trend. With the huge bandwidth in the network, the back end ability to handle the colossal amount of traffic will also go up. That’s why companies are upgrading their network in the datacenter. 

We are different from traditional OEMs in All-Flash, as SanDisk  is one of the five companies in the world that has built All-Flash right from the silicon level. After the merger of SanDisk  and Western Digital, this gives a cost structure advantage to our customers as well as we are immune to cycles of supply and demand curve generally seen in All-Flash. Lastly, we have better control over the quality of the all-flash products.