Access to capital to fund IT acquisitions in general and storage specifically has been pretty good in the past several years. This has led some vendors to conclude that leasing partnerships were of little value. Recent sentiment is that modern technologies delivering superior cost efficiencies would essentially sell themselves.
As pointed out in today's Wikibon Peer Incite call, this is all changing. With tight credit markets, how to pay for the deal is going to be an increasingly important part of the sales motion. For smaller suppliers, this means potentially getting locked out of important discussions or losing deals as a result of financing snags. What today is viewed as a hiccup could become a much more substantial hurdle to getting deals done.
There are several options for smaller vendors, including forming relationships with leasing companies or setting up an internal program by hiring a leasing expert with deep industry expertise and a substantial Rolodex. This action in and of itself doesn't ensure success. Often smaller suppliers will still be locked out of these discussions because customers will have their own leasing arrangements with existing finance firms. Many resellers and smaller customers are less prepared for and more vulnerable to tight credit markets and having a leasing / financing capability will become viewed as table stakes by these partners.
Action Item: Leasing and financing capabilities have long been an offering from large vendors including IBM, HP, EMC, NetApp, and Sun. Smaller companies such as 3PAR have formed leasing partnerships without much traction to date. Nonetheless, smaller suppliers should take 3PAR's cue and form similar relationships as this capability will become increasingly important as the money gets tight and off balance sheet transactions become more attractive to customers.
Footnotes: Details of 3PAR's leasing partnership