This is a guest post by Douglas Mac, Director of Internet marketing at Sonasoft. We are pleased to have this thought leader share his insights on our blog.
We’re a growing startup company with a very strong software product, but we haven’t gotten that full customer traction yet. We’re Sonasoft, and we make email archiving software targeted to small and medium-sized companies. With the economy just showing signs of recovering (knock on wood), it takes time before our customers commit.
We realized that one of the barriers our potential customers had was that we didn’t offer a ‘complete’ solution. True that our email archiving software stood by itself and was easy to install. However, since customers had to purchase and then configure a server, often times our trial version would never be put to use. This gave the opportunity for our competitors who offered a ready-to-use solution, albeit vastly inferior, to snatch away our business.
So, Houston, we have a problem. We know we needed to offer a complete solution. We want our solution to be scalable, for those other guys (read competitors) lock their customers into storage limitations and mailbox licenses. We didn’t want to be supporting hardware; hey, we’re a software company. So, we needed to partner with a hardware company that had excellent support and quality behind its products. (Hmmmmm, I bet you know where I’m going with this, but read on.) Finally, we needed a solution that had trust with our customer base.
Enter Dell OEM Partner Program.
Dell was a perfect fit for our needs. Scalable and custom orders? That’s DELL’s business model. We especially appreciated that DELL’s PowerEdge Servers came with RAID 5, another point that differentiated us from the competition. Also since DELL Servers were integrated seamlessly with Microsoft OS, we could then unleash the power of Microsoft SQL Server to give our email archiving reports the power and flexibility needed. The DELL solution was complete and whole. Competitive pricing? With DELL, we’re in the game. Quality and support? The best. DELL’s international support gives us the reach our small team does only by staying up all night. The trust from small and medium sized businesses? Most of our customers select DELL servers when installing our software, so why not make it simple for them? After all, saving several hours off an IT admin’s day usually meant that he or she could see the kids before they went to bed. We’re all for that. It also helps that we’re a Dell shop too. Our PC’s, notebooks, and servers are all DELL, well, all except that one notebook that doesn’t work so well, but almost everything else is DELL, and no issues. It just works, leaving us time to focus on our business, not on fixes.
OK, so, we found Cinderella, and we had a glass slipper. But, how long would it take before we could make that connection and live prosperously ever after? Well, those initial conversations with DELL and our integrator, Avnet, began in earnest in late cold, December, 2011. The evil cynic in me thought we’ll be wearing flip-flops and making plans to go to the beach (summer) long before this went anywhere. After all, this was DELL, and we’re a growing startup that can count all of its employees with two hands (with a few fingers to spare.) At the time, I thought it was nice that DELL offered us some of its time, but this might take some convincing, perhaps some prolonged convincing, on our side, or so I thought. Oopsie. It’s nice to be wrong. And, wrong I was. Once DELL OEM Partner Program saw our potential, it was straight-out-of-the-gate, blazingly fast. And, it wasn’t just the speed, it was the commitment behind the whole DELL Team. Email got answered within minutes, and replies given late into the night. (We do want the DELL Team to have some family time. That’s important too.) Yet, it was nice to know that the DELL team was behind us and committed to make our email archiving appliance work and ready for the market.
The whole experience with DELL OEM was like working with a startup with resources, knowledge, and depth. I recalled a project management class I once took, where the instructors taught one of the main criteria for having a successful project was the ‘going forward’ effect. They demonstrated this concept by purposely falling forward until they had to step forward to prevent themselves from falling over. The instructors said that if you got this feeling from one of your project team members, then you definitely wanted to keep that person on your project to be successful. With DELL OEM Partner Program we definitely got that ‘swish’ feeling, more like a jetpack propulsion. Less than three months later, we had our SonaVault Email Archiving Appliance featuring Dell PowerEdge Servers ready for the market.
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