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In an effort to bring its resellers up to speed on the emerging tape-automation market and give them the tools they need to sell tape-automation technology to small and midsized companies, Exabyte has rolled out a new opportunity-analysis and technical training program for its VARs.

The new VAR program focuses solely on Exabyte Corp.’s tape autoloader and tape library products. Exabyte’s tape automation products geared at the SMB market include the VXA-2 PacketLoader 1×10 and the Magnum 1×7 LTO Autoloader.

“There are a lot of VARs focusing on the SMB space that have never sold tape automation. They don’t understand how it works and what the advantages are. This program explains the technical and sales issues of how to sell it to an SMB customer,” said Kerry Brock, vice president of marketing at the Boulder, Colo. company.

While most reseller programs from hardware vendors focus solely on the technology, Exabyte’s program includes sales and technical training and materials, a competitive reference guide, marketing and data-protection best practices, installation tips and techniques, and checklists and forms for business protocol and implementation accuracy.

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Also, and most importantly, the program provides instruction in how to provide consultative services around the solution.

“We teach them how you do a backup audit, how to tell if a customer has enough capacity and time window to back up their data set, how to do a proper tape rotation—all of the tools, forms and elements they need to make the business work,” Brock said.

Exabyte’s partner program provides the background on tape automation and information about the SMB market necessary to make the sale run more smoothly, said Jeff Romick, vice president of HBR Technologies, a Carrolton, Tex. VAR.

“Eight out of 10 SMB clients don’t have their information properly backed up and in some cases, don’t have it backed up at all,” he said. “Tape automation is so easy that it’s perfect for SMBs, because they don’t have a lot of internal IT staff or time, and it’s not a core competency. Basically, it takes one of the biggest failings of our industry and turns it into a positive.”

The opportunity for VARs in the tape automation market is huge, Brock said.

“There will be a little more revenue in the initial hardware sale, but there will also be an opportunity to sell more tapes, upgrade their software, and provide some consultative services around that,” he said.

Once a reseller fully understands the needs of the SMB market and how large the opportunity is, there is more than enough to go around, Romick said.

“Some resellers understand the opportunity and really focus on SMBs, but everybody else pretty much ignores them, because they believe it doesn’t represent enough business in one account,” he said. “But there are so many SMBs out there with significant storage needs, which translates into lots of opportunity.”