The Toronto-based startup, which sells entirely through the channel, has created a three stage program to show potential customers who are educating themselves about software-defined storage how ioFABRIC’s differentiated solution for managed I/O allocation can meet their business needs
Nigel Miller, ioFABRIC’s VP of Business Development
Toronto-based software-defined storage startup ioFABRIC has unveiled its LEaD Program, a foundational element of its ioFABRIC Connect Partner Program. The brandable tool, which includes demos and downloadable versions for customers, is designed to provide partners with leads, as well as the online educational resources needed to answer questions customers ask.
ioFABRIC’s Vicinity software ensures that the most important apps have top priority for I/O resources by permitting administrators to assign quality of service (QoS) levels to apps, and then optimizing storage resources to meet those levels. The concept is not a new one. VMware VSAN and EMC ScaleIO do the same thing, although the latter plays at a higher point in the market, but ioFABRIC says they have an edge on both.
“We turn commodity storage into an enterprise storage solution from a software-defined storage perspective, as organizations move from centralized to decentralized storage systems,” said Andrew Flint, ioFABRIC’s VP of Marketing. “We are generally more on the SMB side, and in the same competitive bin as VMware VSAN.
While VMware has enormous brand advantages, ioFabric’s advantage is offering better performance in heterogeneous environments.
“When you get into the problem, unless you are a 100 per cent VMware shop, they aren’t a great fit,” said Nigel Miller, ioFABRIC’s VP of Business Development. “For heterogeneous environments with multiple hypervisors, we are a much better fit. While EMC and VMware are out there, it’s not until the customer has gone to the next stage of exploration that they see the limitations, and through this, they can see how we differentiate.”
The prime task of the LEaD Program, of course, is to highlight this process for the customer, as well as ioFABRIC’s differentiation.
“LEaD really has two goals,” Flint said. “One is to allow both the customer and the reseller to educate themselves, at their own pace, about the problems of the market. The second is to create qualified leads for our partners. We learn how close the customers are to buying, what they care about, things like migration, and then we pass these qualified leads over to our resellers.”
Miller said LEaD has been formulated specifically to deal with the changed market in how technology buyers buy today.
“Ninety per cent of technology buyers now do their own investigation and research before ever contacting a vendor,” he said. “The LEaD program is all about adapting to deal with that.”
LEaD is made up of three components – Learn, Explore and Deploy.
“Through the Learn component, the prospect can come into a portal and learn about software-defined storage and ioFABRIC,” Miller stated. “We will also be adding podcasts, videos, different mediums. The tack here is on addressing specific business problems, not showing off our technology. We have other pages that do that.”
Miller compared the Explore component to a science lab.
“You try some stuff, see how it works, and get some information from the instructor,” he said. The content is available in two forms.
“One is a simple download that lets them run it on a laptop or box and see how it functions. There is also the ability to pull down a full trial version and run it on multiple nodes.” Customers see how Vicinity intelligently moves data closer to the workload. They can set up volumes with policies, while adding devices and experiencing the ease of data migration.
In the final component, Deploy, customers can use Vicinity in their own real-world environment.
“They can see how it will install and drive benefits, and they have all the information to make it successful in their environment,” Miller said.
For ioFABRIC and its partners, who are its route to market, LEaD provides qualified prospects who are in the buying process.
“We have a 100 per cent channel model, and this is a way to get them good quality leads,” Miller said.
Flint said that getting these prospects to the site falls into his purview as head of marketing.
“We are doing social media, like text ads in LinkedIn, to get them to come to the site,” he said.
“We are also tapping into some existing tech communities as well, like Spiceworks,” Miller added.
ioFABRIC is still building out its channel.
“We have had some success with some local partners,” Miller said. “The Canadian market as a whole is very conservative, but it helps to get those first customers within driving distance from our office. We are getting a lot of interest overseas though, particularly in Europe and Asia Pacific.”
To develop the North American channel, ioFABRIC has recently enlisted SYNNEX for its distribution.
“We signed on with them at the beginning of the year, and they are really focused on driving us in the U.S. market,” Miller said. “At the very small end of the business, those companies are looking for service providers, and managed services providers. Resellers are more up the chain. We are looking on building out both the MSPs and resellers. We think that in the first year, getting 25-50 good solid resellers and making them successful would be a good start.”
ioFABRIC is also contemplating other channel initiatives in addition to LeAD.
“We are looking at implementing an early adopter program for our first few resellers, ensuring they are up to speed, and investing in them with marketing funds,” Miller said.