Storage Technology Vendor Isilon Guns for NetApp

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


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Former NetApp channel chief Leonard Iventosch has revamped the channel discount model at storage upstart Isilon, and partners say that they are seeing double the margins these days. Isilon is also upping its virtualization play with new certifications from VMware in advance of VMworld.

It’s only been a year since Leonard Iventosch’s surprise departure from NetApp as head of channels there, but the channel veteran as been busy ever since building out the reseller and solution provider channel program of storage upstart and NetApp rival Isilon.

He’s increased the channel mix for the company, built a partner discount model and developed partnerships with other vendors such as Commvault, Symantec and VMware.

That relationship with VMware is the focus for Isilon during the final week of August as the company takes a big presence at the VMworld conference in San Francisco. Ahead of the event Isilon announced that its Isilon IQ product family, including the IQ1920x, IQ3000x, IQ6000x, IQ9000x and IQ12000x, has achieved VMware Ready status, meaning that the products have passed VMware’s evaluation and testing process.

The overall Isilon message is one that’s resonated with solution provider channel partners, particularly since Iventosch has taken over. Alan Dumas, president of Isilon channel partner Accunet Solutions says he is often getting twice the margins from Isilon sales that he gets from NetApp sales since Iventosch has revamped the pricing model for the channel.

"There’s a better margin opportunity for selling our products versus competitors, and we call out NetApp because they are one of our biggest competitors," says Iventosch. Back at NetApp "I couldn’t change the pricing and discount model. There was a torturous negotiation with the district manager. Partner margins on NetApp products were running 15 to 20 percent a year ago. Now IDC data is showing that it’s 10 percent on hardware there. But our partners are making on average more than double what NetApp partners are."

But the technology itself is what makes the biggest difference, according to Iventosch.

"If you don’t have a superior technology it doesn’t matter how good your channel program is," Iventosch tells Channel Insider. "The technology is table stakes."

Isilon technology is aimed at offering simplicity for large scale virtualized storage environment – starting at not less than 10 terabytes. The technology makes it look like one file system on one large volume of storage, says Sam Grocott, Isilon senior director of product management.

It’s been an easy sale to end-customers says Dumas, who adds that his company has seen immediate success in verticals such as media and entertainment and any business that needs to do modeling.

"Those folks that have the issues of trying to scale out their storage architecture know the problems and deficiencies of their current architecture," he says. "When we show them how this works it’s an easy sell."

For example, one customer initially bought for 300 terabytes from Accunet, and has since scaled out the system to over 2 petabytes, all supported by a single administrator.

Another customer ordered 432 terabytes and Accunet’s engineer installed it in less than 3 hours, says Dumas, a task that would have been charged at at least two days installation with previous technology.

And it’s a market that’s growing. IDC points out that currently only 15 percent of enterprise applications are virtualized but that by 2012 nearly 80 percent of all enterprise applications will be virtualized. That’s an opportunity for technology such as Isilon, says Grocott. And Isilon wants to extend that opportunity to its partnership with the channel.

"We’ve extended this last week product lines for just the channel to sell," says Grocott. "We’ve created a channel exclusive bundle for entry level installations of 24 terabytes…Almost half of our new customers come through these bundles now, and they are channel exclusive."


Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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