Overland Storage Starts its Makeover; “The Marketplace is Ravenous for Innovation”

It is no secret that Overland Storage (Nasdaq: OVRL) endured a period of declining sales and management shake-ups in 2007 and 2008. A new CEO, VP of worldwide sales and VP of marketing in the past year indicate the company is trying to right itself from a leadership perspective. These changes provide insight as to where Overland Storage intends to go as it starts its makeover.

Yet this transition will be far from easy as traditional technologies like tape libraries and drives are now taking secondary roles in organizational backup processes. Because of this, Overland Storage needs to make more than just leadership changes but move disk-based storage and deduplication products to the forefront of its product strategy.

From this perspective, Overland Storage has already responded with its disk-based REO SERIES backup solutions. These systems provide customers with a number of different ways to introduce disk-based backup into their environments. Overland Storage includes its Dynamic Virtual Tape (DVT) feature – thin provisioning for Virtual Tape Libraries (VTLs) – across the entire REO product line. Its high-end REO 9500D offers deduplication that meets new enterprise demands for this feature. With these products, Overland Storage appears to understand what the market wants and is offering solutions to meet customers’ specific needs.

However to fully complete its makeover, Overland Storage needs to stay focused on the channel. The company’s sales are 100% driven through its channel partners and the fact that Overland has acknowledged disappointment in the performance of its sales in its most recent Q3 2008 report indicates that further attention is needed.

Enter Ravi Pendekanti, Overland Storage’s new VP of worldwide marketing. A veteran of leadership positions at SGI and Sun Microsystems, he was brought onboard in April 2008 to help articulate Overland Storage’s product roadmap to its channel partners while also better aligning the product roadmap with the needs of channel partners.

In Pendekanti’s short tenure, he has already driven some key initiatives to do this. However, with all of Overland Storage’s sales driven through the channel, he sees his real challenge as putting together a program that channel partners can utilize and participate in. Specifically, he needs their feedback to strengthen the company’s current and future product portfolio so it can come to market more quickly with products that customers wants. “The marketplace is ravenous for innovation,” he says.

This is, however, easier said than done. Overland Storage needs to put in place a program that funnels information from the field (partners and their clients) to its product management group. This would ensure that innovation is not occurring just for its own sake but is the sort of product innovation that customers want and will pay money to obtain.

In part 2 of this series, we’ll look at the initiatives Overland Storage’s Pendekanti is taking to deliver on these objectives.

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