PROMISE Technology to deepen Canadian channel presence through NetStor Technology Group

The Markham-based manufacturer’s rep will expand PROMISE’s Canadian markets by educating its VARs and distributors how the vendor has evolved from making components to a range of solutions.

FileCruiser hardware small

PROMISE’s FileCruiser solution

Long-time Taiwanese RAID controller and subsystem vendor PROMISE Technology has made a major move to expand its Canadian business, engaging Markham-based manufacturers’ representative NetStor Technology Group to strengthen their business in Canada. NetStor’s main focus will be educating its partners and the market that PROMISE has greatly expanded its solution offerings in the rich media, cloud, and video surveillance areas.

For instance, last August PROMISE released its FileCruiser Enterprise File Synchronization and Sharing (EFSS) solution, which lets enterprises and SMBs build a private cloud storage service. It was PROMISE’s first venture in the cloud, and their first software application venture, as the company looks for new markets and to move beyond commodity hardware. EFSS works like Dropbox, with more sophisticated access permissions for specific permissions rather than one big bucket, and with greater scalability, except that it is entirely deployed on the customer’s premises.

“Lots of people in the channel and end users still think Promise is just a RAID controller company, but they have branched off into solution-based, appliance-based products, and we have to educate the channel on that,” said Steven Cheung, NetStor Technology Group’s president.

NetStor, which has been in business since 2001, has a storage focus. Cheung’s own background in storage goes back to 1982, and his employees have relationships with the storage channel.

“We are very specialized in networking and storage and we don’t go beyond that,” he said. “Today a lot of rep firms in the Canadian market are OEM based, but we do the whole of supply chain management, from the OEM space to the end user, and we go into end user corporations and government with a push-pull effect. Everything goes through our partners, and we have a high trust level with resellers because they know we won’t take any deals direct. We educate them on products and solutions.”

NetStor has a broad and diverse channel, including OEMs, VARs and DMRs like CDW Canada, Insight and Softchoice. They don’t deal with retailers who just sell to consumers, but they do when they sell into the corporate market. NetStor has a sales office in Montreal for access into the French-speaking market. They are also strong in the system builder space.

“The Canadian system builder market has changed a lot, and many of them are now selling branded products too, particularly networking and storage,” Cheung said.

Cheung also said the data centre market is has been changing, opening up new opportunities for companies like PROMISE.

“Data centres in the past have always been Tier One vendors, but now many are looking for better pricing and more customization, which they don’t get from the Tier Ones,” he said. “We do the configuration for specific customer needs.”

Cheung indicated he sees a strong market for both PROMISE’s traditional raid boxes and their new solutions. He said that they had done very well with LSI’s RAID boxes, before all LSI’s manufacturer rep deals were ended following their acquisition in late 2013.

“We really like PROMISE’s product lines there,” he said. “It’s a real bonus that they are also getting into solutions.

“I believe PROMISE’s strength today is on the enriched media side,” Cheung continued. “That’s where their bread and butter is. But does the Apple base fully know who they are? Not a lot of VARs and end users know they have advanced RAID subsystems. We have been doing buddy calls to the VARs to get them interest in their appliance based products.”

Vendors typically engage a manufacturer’s rep because they can get more individualized service than from a distributor, who by definition carry many lines, and Cheung said NetStor’s main focus will be on explaining the value of PROMISE’s higher value-add lines.

“Our strategy going forward with PROMISE is to drive on the appliance and solution based products,” he said. “Today, a lot of the end users are appliance-aware. They don’t want to piece together three or four different solutions, which is why more and more appliance-based products are being introduced.

“PROMISE has a customer base in Canada now, but Canada is a small market, and their focus in North America has been in the U.S.,” Cheung said. “You can’t build strong relationships when you only come into the Canadian market every few months, and that’s why rep firms are more prevalent here than in the U.S. We will work with the partners who have been buying, and talk with the ones who used to buy and stopped, and find out why. We will also introduce PROMISE to new VARs and customers that PROMISE wasn’t aware of, and we will work with distribution partners and their outside reps to educate them on the product offerings PROMISE has.”