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EMC commits to the channel

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What started as a new market for information management giant EMC in 1999
has quickly grown to become a major contributor to the company's business as
the universal requirement for information storage is increasingly felt by
companies in the mid-market.

On top of its complete information management portfolio, EMC South Africa
continues to establish appropriate channel structures to provide for the
effective delivery of solutions to this market in South Central and East
Africa.That's according to Rian de Leeuw, EMC District Manager, South Africa
and Africa.
He explains that the 1999 acquisition of Data General heralded a new era for
EMC as it extended its market reach from an enterprise-only organisation, to
one which covers more sectors of the market. "Before 2000, EMC was for big
business only; it delivered high availability with the Symmetrix range which
also came with a high price tag," he says.
However, while Symmetrix remains the company's flagship high-end product,
EMC today addresses information management across the full spectrum, from
the home user, though small and medium businesses to the enterprise. Through
acquisition and internal development, it has also firmly established itself
as one of the world's largest software vendors.
"Moving into the mid-market or commercial space was tough, given the
existing perceptions of EMC as focused on the enterprise only," says de
Leeuw.
He says the company has a well established and fully accredited first-tier
partner ecosystem, and efforts are presently focused on the development of
the second tier partners with a strong strategy to target the middle and
lower sector of the market. "EMC has made investments in education and
training. In addition, we have appointed staff to bolster the sales
divisions, and have increased headcount -particularly in the commercial
space, as well as presales and support personnel," he says.
Through this structured approach to the channel, which includes the
introduction of a two-tier distribution model, the company has made
significant headway, internationally and locally. Developments include the
expansion of the company's coastal operations, with offices in Cape Town,
Durban and now also in Port Elizabeth. These offices carry sales and
technical resources in support of the channel nationwide; as a result, says
de Leeuw, "Commercial is today the fastest growing segment of the EMC
business."
With BMI-T anticipating growth of 9% growth in enterprise IT markets, 13% in
'high end' commercial markets and 17% in the 'low end' commercial space, he
says the ability to address all market segments provides EMC with
substantially expanded opportunity.
"The enterprise business still produces the bulk of EMC's income, but we do
expect this to change with the work which is being done in terms of
developing the partner network within South Africa and into Africa
countries."
A further 17 countries across Central and East Africa fall within de Leeuw's
remit. He says these territories are being serviced purely through the
channel. "We are developing these markets by relying on the partner channel.
As business ramps up, the possibility of establishing a direct presence will
be evaluated."
Many of these territories are entirely new for EMC. "The opportunity is
therefore immense and the dividends that we are seeing are substantial. We
will develop these markets with the same business model which has proven
successful in South Africa – the establishment of value-added distributors
and resellers which are appropriately skilled in order to deliver the EMC
information management promise."
Aside from perhaps the widest portfolio of information management solutions
of any vendor, De Leeuw says EMC offers strength through its commitment to
market and partner education. "This is geared to establish the skills
necessary to implement effective information management processes. Our
partners need to understand customer pain points and to develop solutions
that solve these issues," he says. "In this market, there is no space for
product-selling. The needs are more complex and the solutions that EMC and
its partner network provide have to match these needs."