Server virtualization and services tied to virtualization are big business for channel partners. Recent research from VMware reveals that the percent of virtualized servers is growing at nearly twice the rate of historical physical server procurement and deployments. And, virtualization is no longer merely a large enterprise play with AMI-Partners’ research revealing that SMBs spent $1.2 billion on server virtualization in 2012, and server virtualization adoption is expected to grow 18.1 percent annually.
As businesses consider their migration to the cloud, determining which aspects of their IT infrastructures and processes can be virtualized is a critical part of that conversation. So, the big question is, how do VARs and MSPs uncover these opportunities? The fastest way to capitalize on the dual trends of IT moving to the cloud and desktops, servers and IT processes becoming virtualized is by learning to conduct a formal virtualization assessment or a “health check” of your customers’ existing infrastructures. This will help you determine whether you should be directing a customer to expand its on-premises virtualization footprint or move some of its workloads to the cloud.
The goal of a virtualization health check is to enable IT service providers to:
- Ensure each customer has an optimized and secure virtualized environment
- Provide guidance to customers on industry best practices
- Mitigate the VARs’ and customers’ risks by leveraging experienced and certified professionals
Because each customer’s virtualization needs vary greatly, a virtualization health check should be flexible enough that it can be deployed as a high-level two-day assessment or an in-depth eight-week assessment, and it needs to be adapted to IT service providers of all skill levels selling to end customers with a range of virtualization needs.
As part of a virtualization health check, a virtualization-certified expert should be involved with each step of the assessment, which typically follows these steps:
- First is a pre-sales consultation, which includes an introductory alignment call during which the IT service provider and customer discuss the business needs, technology environment, compliance/mandate issues and short- and long-term requirements for the customer.
- Next, the virtualization expert conducts a kick-off call to review the proposed assessment plan and to discuss the scope of work, which includes providing a clear understanding of services to be performed and the requirements for all parties involved.
- The final step is an assessment report, which details how the customer’s current IT hardware and environment compare to other similar deployments and offers a recommendation for specific changes in design that could yield higher consolidation ratios, better performance and, ultimately, a lower total cost of ownership for the end user.
If you’re not sure where to start, or don’t have the resources in your bench to get this done, don’t sweat it. At Ingram Micro, we offer the IM Virtualization Health Check. This professional service is conducted by an Ingram Micro badged employee (not a third-party associate) with VMware certification credentials on your company’s behalf. The pricing for the service is a straightforward, fixed fee based on small, medium or large enterprise environments. There’s even a fourth pricing level for highly customized environments such as a virtual host tied to a server farm. We did this to ensure there are no surprises and that we can offer channel partners exactly what they need.
What’s great about this service is that IT service providers can be totally involved or completely hands-off with the assessment process, depending on their personal preferences. In some cases, a partner will want to use the assessment as a training tool to become more familiar with the finer points of virtualization. In other cases, however, in which partners pick up a virtualization project as a one-off install, they may opt to turn the entire assessment over to the Ingram Micro rep, so they can then focus on their core competencies. The choice is theirs.
Once you’ve completed an assessment, you have the data you need to help your customer develop its cloud migration plan, too. A big part of this process entails recommending which virtualized workloads should be set up on premise and which ones should move to the cloud. Ingram Micro has a wide portfolio of cloud services that can be used as part of the plan, ranging from vetting cloud vendors to helping partners execute a cloud migration with/for a partner. Earlier this year I wrote a three-part article that detailed a five-step plan for migrating to the cloud and/or expanding your current cloud practice. These same steps still hold true, whether you’re looking to back up your customer’s data in the cloud or virtualize its servers there.
The opportunity around virtualization is growing and presents a high-margin revenue generator for channel partners who are ready and willing. If you’re interested in honing your virtualization skill sets, we encourage you to sign up for VMware certification training offered by Ingram Micro’s Training Academy, which is one of only four premier authorized training facilities in the United States. Together, we can capitalize on the growth of virtualization in 2014 and beyond.
Jason Bystrak is director of Sales for the Services division of Ingram Micro North America. Guest blogs such as this one are published monthly, and are part of Talkin' Cloud's annual platinum sponsorship.