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Is There Partner Opportunity in a DIY Data Management World?

Every business today is accumulating massive amounts of unstructured data, from e-mails to documents to images. As the competition between Microsoft, Amazon and Google continues to drive down cost of data storage, it's tempting for those businesses to take a do-it-yourself approach.

But promises of easy administration that don't hold true provide an opportunity for partners to solve their customers' growing data management problems.

There are definitely two sides to big data. There's the sexy side, where partners can wow business owners by applying machine learning to ERP data and magically predict their customers' next purchases.

And then there is unstructured data -- the proposals that no one will ever look at again., the group list e-mails that are duplicated in every employee's .PST file. Not sexy, but most of it is sitting on servers that businesses would like to get rid of.

"Unstructured data is a lot like cleaning the attic. You know it's a big mess up there, and there's treasures, and there's some icky things," said Geoff Bourgeois CEO of HubStor. "But then nothing really happens. The problem gets kicked down the road to worry about later."

"But I think what's interesting from a partner angle is that the light bulb really seems to have gone on for businesses. That cloud is a smarter place to store the data that's not being used and is taking up space on hardware that's expensive to maintain," continued Bourgeois. "But when customers dig into it, the 'gotchas' come into play."

The "gotchas," according to Bourgeois, include the details that most cloud storage providers gloss over. Details like migrating data from legacy systems to the cloud, maintaining security through and after the migration, finding data once it's in the cloud and, finally, getting your data out of the cloud.

"Instead of finding it easy, customers are often surprised by the complexity. They look at Amazon Glacier and come out completely disillusioned," said Bourgeois. "They expect a nice turnkey Software as a Service solution, and what they are bumping into is infrastructure and platform. You've got to roll up your sleeves, learn the tools, connect them and maybe even do some development work to get everything really singing and dancing. I think that's where partners can add value -- understand the customer's use case and bring cloud solutions together in a way that's meaningful for your customer."

The common expectations that HubStor sees from customers include the ability to delete duplicate content, apply security policies and audit access to sensitive data. In the case of legal or regulatory issues, businesses need to be able to search data, which can be surprising difficult, if not impossible, through many cloud storage services.

"We see a lot of customers that just don't want to have to think about it. They want to have a partner involved as the virtual administrator, provide updates on the high points and perhaps an executive briefing on how things are going," said Bourgeois. "The customer is more outcome-oriented and doesn't want to get stuck down in the weeds of how to make it happen."

Focusing on the concept that customers want simplicity, HubStor offers its Microsoft Azure-based archiving and discovery solutions through unique pricing models, which have been well-received by its customers and channel partners. Unlike most cloud storage providers, HubStor reflects the Azure pay-for-what-you-use pricing model. Customers pay on usage, month to month, with no upfront costs.

"We make pricing totally transparent to our customers, the Azure costs plus our markup," explained Bourgeois. "This model really resonates with companies because they love the fact that it's transparent, they're paying only for what they use, without the large upfront costs."

Additionally, HubStor does not require long-term commitments to lock in customers. "We want customers using our solution because they're getting value out of it, not because we forced them into it technically or contractually," said Bourgeois. "I love that model because it sends the right kind of signals out in the marketplace. It also helps to diffuse people's concerns about the cloud when they can see zero lock-in."

Unstructured data management may not be the sexiest part of the Big Data play, but it's a service that businesses need. Through Azure, partners have a platform that provides tremendous potential to simplify data management for customers. And you never know what treasures you'll find helping them clean out their attics.

How are you approaching Big Data? Add a comment below or send me an e-mail and let's share your story.

Posted by Barb Levisay on October 05, 2016 at 8:47 AM


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