Going Virtual Opens New Business Opportunities for VARs
There is considerable talk about virtualization in the PC market right now, especially around servers. Because virtualization is an abstract concept, end customers may be reluctant to realize its benefits. But with a 60 percent return on investment achievable over four years, virtualization should be a new opportunity on the radar of customers and partners. Here’s why.
Put broadly, virtualization is the abstraction of computer resources. For servers, it means using virtualization software to run different operating systems on the same physical machine. The topic of server virtualization is getting a lot of attention now for a couple of reasons. For one, economic conditions are putting a strain on hardware purchases. And businesses are focusing on containing both their energy and their software costs. A recent IDC report shows the total worldwide support and deployment services market is expected to grow from $7.1 billion to $8.4 billion in 2013, a CAGR of 3.4 percent.
Virtualized Small Business Servers
It used to be that servers were just for large enterprises. Not anymore. With small-to-medium businesses forecasted to outpace large enterprises in PC purchases, now is the time for business partners to be bringing servers into your SMB customer’s hardware mix. Educating your customers about the benefits of server virtualization will help save them money on hardware upfront with long-term IT and energy savings as well as create opportunities for reoccurring revenue for you. With the recent growth of managed services, virtualization provides an opportunity for MSP’s to better utilize assets, deliver software-as-a-service, and optimize costs.
An obvious benefit of virtualization is reducing “server sprawl.” Whenever I heard this phrase, an image of suburbs replaced by servers comes to mind. Why have eight servers when you can consolidate down to one? Thanks to advancements in CPU performance, we now can reduce the amount of physical hardware. And while we’re at it, why have many servers that are underutilized when you can maximize use of fewer? We find often that servers are only being used for one purpose and may not run at maximum capacity except during peak hours.
The benefit of consolidating servers helps reduce energy costs. On average, a customer can save about $5,000 in four years by consolidating from eight servers to one physical system running virtualized applications. For installation, business partners should look for PC makers that offer servers with a built in virtualization connector to allow a boot directly into the virtual environment. Also, look for servers with plenty of expansion for more memory, storage and processing as the customer’s business grows.
Server virtualization also helps save on software maintenance fees since fewer servers require fewer licenses. Virtualization opens doors for business partners for ongoing maintenance and redeploying configurations to new environments. VARs should look for PC makers with strong partnerships with leading virtualization software makers like VMware, Microsoft, Novell and Red Hat.
Given the technology advancements in hardware and software, interest and deployments of virtualized servers will continue to grow, allowing customers to avoid the need to purchase expensive external storage solutions and manage their IT costs. Beyond the opportunity of new hardware sales to support virtualization, VARs can realize opportunity in the consulting, deployment, integration, ongoing management, hosting and support of these environments.
Jay McBain is director of SMB for Lenovo. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of The VAR Guy’s 2009 sponsorship program. Read all of McBain’s blog entries here. And listen to his podcast about managed services here.