The distie was named number one Samsung HDD vendor for 2014

Interview: Why M2m Direct plans to enter the enterprise market

After selling almost half a million Samsung HDD hard drives in 2014, distributor M2m Direct has scooped a prestigious award. Dominic Sacco talks to MD Ged Mitchell and business development director Charlie Hacker about reaching the No.1 spot and demand for hard drives versus SSDs, as well as the future of storage…

Solid State drives (SSD) may grab all the headlines in the storage sector nowadays, but the good old spinning disk is still very much alive and kicking.

The proof? Distributor M2m Direct sold a record 450,000 units into the UK market last year (including barebones HDD and boxed retail product), securing the 2014 UK Premier Storage Solution Partner award from Samsung HDD, a division of Seagate Technology.

The relationship between the distributor and vendor was formed just over three and a half years ago, and demand for the products has grown ever since.

“It’s just flown,” M2m Direct’s business development director Charlie Hacker (pictured far right) tells PCR. “Where we developed momentum very quickly was in the SI channel. SSD was high-priced and wasn’t as enormous as it is now, so there was big demand on 320GB and 500GB and that’s where we started the momentum growing.

“The real kick-start was the retail business, and we’ve seen the Samsung M3 portable hard drive become probably the best-selling drive in the UK for the 1TB category bar none. I think the UK has probably adopted the portable hard drive technology quicker than anyone else.

“A lot of credit needs to go to Samsung HDD. They incentivised it and encouraged us to look at a different distribution model. It was more on a basis of little and often, but they really pushed us to take a lot of volume at a very good price, which bucked the trend. It almost revolutionised this category.”

M2m Direct managing director Ged Mitchell (pictured middle right) adds: “We are proud to be recognised by Samsung HDD and given this award. Furthermore, we are extremely pleased to announce that as well as being the number one Samsung HDD vendor for 2014, we are looking to increase our market share in 2015 on Samsung HDD, which the whole M2m team are immensely proud.

“We also have a superb product roadmap commencing in Q2 2015 that we believe will enhance the Samsung HDD product offering to the UK marketplace.”

M2m was set up in 1998 and today says it’s the number one specialist memory and storage distributor in the UK, with a turnover of circa £50 million. It also deals in SSD, DRAM, flash memory, optical and server products, selling to the B2B, resale and retail markets. So can it sell even more HDD units this year?

“If the market allows it, then yes,” Hacker says. “Due to a lot of tablet-based or PC-based applications which don’t have an optical drive in any shape or form, external storage is now a necessity. And 1TB portable drives are getting more affordable.

“The demand for storage is certainly there to continue. We’d like to get an uplift of 15 per cent to 20 per cent on that number, at least.”

Aside from a growing demand for external drives, there are other exciting more recent developments in storage. For higher-end storage there are 5TB and 6TB options available, while products like the Samsung Wireless Multimedia Streaming Device are gaining traction.

There’s also the Samsung 2TB M9T 9.5mm 2.5-inch product, which allows gamers to upgrade the storage capacity of their PS4 consoles. Hacker says this will revolutionise the 2.5-inch form factor and external HDD market.

Going forwards, many consumers and businesses are also turning to cloud storage, but Mitchell is unfazed by this.

“Companies like Apple and Amazon have their own cloud products, but consumers aren’t totally confident in that. They want their personal documents on devices like HDD,” he explains.

“Going forward I believe the big revolution – where we’re investing in very heavily as a company – is the enterprise area. Right now that market is totally dominated by HDD.”

Hacker concludes: “HDD is a stable product. It’s tried, tested and reliable. And following the emergence of SSD, the cost per gigabyte ratio will always favour the spinning disk, at least for the next five years.”

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