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What are the pros and cons of working with a storage VAR for small businesses?

What are the pros and cons of working with a storage VAR for SMBs?

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For small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), I think that there is great value in working with value-added resellers (VARs) for data storage and other IT-related needs. However, there are some cons to using storage VARs. The downsides include a lack of direct contact with manufacturers or service providers for sales and marketing acquisition or decision-making content, service and support. For example, if the VAR is operating on very slim margins and simply carrying a particular vendor as part of their menu of options, competing on low price instead of adding value, then you may get what you pay for.

However, when working with a storage VAR, many focus on the "value-added" aspect, which can range from spending more time with you, to understanding your needs, to helping you navigate through the maze of solution offerings from different or even the same vendor. Other benefits include more direct access via the VAR to different vendors' offerings, enhanced service and support, simplified billing and asset management. While price is important, you should look for a VAR who wants to invest its time in your business and become a partner, not just when there is a deal on the table. Also, choose a VAR that will be there when you need help, both before and after the sale, as well as being your advocate with the manufacturers.

This was first published in April 2010

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