Bruce Hockin: Fuelling demand for storage innovation


The big names in IT storage are failing to deliver on innovation – leaving a gap for start-ups and disruptive technology vendors to grab slice of the market.

That’s according to the channel veteran and founder of start-up distributor channelfusion, Bruce Hockin, who claims there’s little to differentiate the handful of vendors that currently dominate the storage market: IBM, HP, Dell, EMC, NetApp and HDS.

“Everyone has been stuck with the traditional SAN, NAS hard drive-based storage arrays – the technology hasn’t really progressed a lot,” says Hockin (pictured). “Those big guys are too worried about cannibalising their existing business to go with something so drastically innovative.”

This, says the former Avnet exec, provides a space for smaller players focusing on new and disruptive technologies to come to market – like channelfusion.

“It’s just left a lot of gaps for innovative storage players to come out. It’s those players that we’re partnering with to take their proposition to market,” he says.

Explaining why he left Avnet to launch channelfusion, Hockin says: “We set up the company so we could provide that ‘fleet of foot’ channel engagement,” he says. “The emphasis is on finding new, innovative technology vendors and bringing them to market.

“I wanted to move back to where everything’s about the channel partner, everything’s about the customer…I don’t want to driven by factors that make sense to shareholders and investors but don’t make sense to doing good business in their market.”

Hockin remains supportive of Avnet and its status as a global distributor, but he says “it’s not our strategy…We’re reaching out to a market that cannot be serviced by a larger distributor.”

Hockin claims a number of technology inflection points are creating opportunities for the channel: “The storage market is so dynamic right now; it’s a really exciting and interesting time,” he comments.

“All Flash arrays, hybrid arrays, scale-out storage and cloud storage – all these solutions couldn’t have been thought about three years ago, and they’re all happened at the same time. There have been a number of revolutions in the storage market.”

Hockin has been joined by former business unit director at Avnet, Grant Reddin, who says channelfusion “is in the right place at the right time, and it’s very exciting to be part of something that is going to make a real difference to partners that want to add an edge to their storage offerings.”

channelfusion’s latest signing is Fusion-io, a specialist in enterprise Flash storage technology. “Our objective is to enable and support a channel of around a dozen specialised partners to work with Fusion-io – specifically those that are ready to reap the rewards from the gap created by incumbent SAN providers that are failing to meet customer performance needs at the right price,” says Hockin.

Looking to the future, Hockin says channelfusion’s focus is on depth of partnership, rather than breadth. “Vendors who want 500 partners, look elsewhere,” says Hocking, who adds that partners are fed up with “the slopey-shouldered margins” that vendors are offering.

“We want to work with a handful of committed channel partners multiple technology propositions – that way you can deliver greater value to them. [We will] deliver that value though exceptional relationships and products though a narrow channel. That way those resellers mean more to you, and you can justify more time plugging their business and making them money.”

Christine Horton

Christine has been a tech journalist for over 20 years, 10 of which she spent exclusively covering the IT Channel. From 2006-2009 she worked as the editor of Channel Business, before moving on to ChannelPro where she was editor and, latterly, senior editor.

Since 2016, she has been a freelance writer, editor, and copywriter and continues to cover the channel in addition to broader IT themes. Additionally, she provides media training explaining what the channel is and why it’s important to businesses.