IBM Ramps Up TMS Distribution Channel
By Gina Roos
Texas Memory Systems (TMS), an IBM company, has added Avnet Technology Solutions to its distribution roster to sell its flash-based storage solutions in the United States and Canada. Under the agreement, Avnet will sell TMS' full line of solid-state memory solutions, including the RamSan family of shared rack mount systems and Peripheral Component Interconnect Express (PCIe) cards.
Going against convention, IBM decided to establish a distribution channel to sell TMS products ahead of the company's full integration into IBM's business. (IBM acquired TMS in October 2012.)
The move is due partly to TMS' limited sales force and a reseller model that didn't include distribution, said Kurt Bilderback, vice president of sales, at IBM Flash Systems.
"When we acquire a company, it is a wholly owned subsidiary until the transfer of business, which typically takes six months," said Bilderback. "We didn't want to wait until the transfer of business to engage our distribution model because we have a hot product in a market that has a lot of growth."
IBM offered all four of its distributors in North America, as well as several distributors in Europe, the opportunity to sign an interim distribution agreement directly with TMS. Arrow Enterprise Computing Solutions signed an agreement in the fourth quarter of 2012. However, once the transfer of business is completed, IBM's entire global distribution network will have access to the TMS product line, said Bilderback.
"Avnet saw the opportunity to make the product available to its current resellers of IBM products and the opportunity to recruit new resellers that want access to this product," said Bilderback. "Avnet has many highly qualified IBM resellers, and the agreement enables them to have access to the TMS product line immediately."
IBM wants to "engage all of the resellers as quickly as possible so they can understand the product and help their clients understand it because the TMS solution offers a significant performance improvement—not only in storage, but also for their data centers," said Bilderback. He added that one of the key benefits of the TMS flash solution is its extremely low latency of less than 100 microseconds, compared with 5,000 to 8,000 microseconds for hard-disk drives (HDDs).
"It helps remove bottlenecks in storage with extremely low latency and very high IOPS [input/output operations per second] that, as a result, improves the overall performance of the data center," said Bilderback. "Networks are more efficient, CPUs are more utilized, and even the HDDs that this solution is placed alongside become better utilized, offering clients the opportunity to improve productivity."
The new agreement with Avnet is expected to help resellers capitalize on the growing flash-based storage market. The global IT distributor provides services that include training, market education, and pipeline development and support. It also offers specialized services for the data center through its SolutionsPath program.