By paying a nominal cost for virtual software licensing, your customers' data backups can now be restored in a matter of 15 minutes or less, a huge improvement over the two to five days for an image recovery.

September 30, 2013

4 Min Read
The Easy Way To Sell Virtualization To SMBs

By Intronis Guest Blog 2

Virtualization is a sleek and fast-moving train, evidenced by the fact that procurement and deployment of virtualized servers has more than doubled in the last three years. This from a recent survey conducted by VMware, which revealed that the percent of virtualized servers vs. physical servers grew from 29 percent in 2009 to 66 percent in 2012, and it continues to grow at nearly twice the rate of historical physical server procurement and deployments. The top five drivers for this shift from physical to virtual servers include: reduced hardware costs, server provisioning time reduction, disaster recovery improvements, reduced maintenance/upgrade expenses, and shorter application rollouts.

One of the misconceptions that some VARs and SMBs have regarding virtualization is that it’s only beneficial for enterprises with dozens of servers residing in large data centers. The reality is that, thanks to changes in some of the leading virtualization companies’ licensing models and the increase in the number of software vendors integrating with these virtual platforms, virtualization is now a viable option for many of your SMB customers.

Data Backups Are A Good Place To Begin Your Virtualization Discussion

One of the biggest challenges with selling any new solution or service is determining where to begin. To get started selling virtualized solutions, consider incorporating it with your data backup and recovery sales. More and more companies realize that their business success is tied closely to having access to their data. Research from FEMA confirms this reality by revealing that 43 percent of businesses do not reopen after catastrophic data loss.  Here’s where backing up virtual machines offers customers a big advantage over physical machine backups.

Think about the process for performing an image recovery to a new server. First, depending on which physical imaging solution you’re using, you may need to ensure the new server has nearly identical specifications as the old one, including the same RAID configuration, CPU type and operating system — for starters, which can take days to prepare if a new server has to be ordered. Next comes the process of performing an image restore, which can take several hours. When all is said and done, even if your customer had a perfectly good backup, it could take the better part of a week to restore their data and get them back to a normal production environment.

Contrast the first scenario with a virtualized environment, which logically separates the business applications and operating systems from the hardware they were once bound to, thereby turning customers’ mission critical business applications and data into the equivalent of files and folders. What’s more, this virtual backup can be restored to any hardware appliance — it doesn’t have to identically match the original server.

What this means for you and your customers is that by paying a nominal cost for virtual software licensing, their data backups can now be restored in a matter of 15 minutes or less, a huge improvement over the two to five days for an image recovery. Another big advantage of virtual software is that you can demonstrate it in a reasonable amount of time, so your customers can actually experience it before they purchase.

Don’t Treat VMs Like Physical Machines

Because of the enormous success of virtual machines (VMs) over the past few years, many backup and recovery vendors now include virtual backup and restore as part of their offerings, which makes it even easier for VARs and MSPs to sell virtualization to their customers. Even though your backup software may support virtual backups, however, don’t assume this automatically means that you’ll be able to realize all the benefits mentioned earlier. The fact is that some backup applications treat VMs and physical machines alike, adding unnecessary burdens to VMs such as configuring adapters, CPU requirements, and bootable media before the VM can initiate a restore. By adding these extra steps, a 15-minute data restore can take more than two hours. Additionally, treating VMs like physical machines could require you to go on-site to perform a data restore as opposed to completing the restore remotely, thereby cutting into your profit margins if you’re charging customers a monthly flat fee for your IT services.

By selecting a data backup and recovery solution that recognizes the difference between a VM and physical machine, you’ll ensure that both you and your customers experience the full potential virtualization has to offer. Taking this step will put you on board the virtualization train rather than watching it quickly pass by. And, once you get started, adding additional virtualization services down the road will be a natural progression leading to additional revenue streams.

For more information on new opportunities that are opening up for MSPs that offer virtualization support services, read our recent blog post, “Virtualization demand highlights IT skills gap, MSP opportunities.” You can also find a steady stream of useful IT information on our  Cloud Backup and Recovery blog.

Nathan Bradbury is a Solutions Engineer at Intronis, a cloud-based backup and disaster recovery provider that works closely with VARs and MSPs.

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