Having overcome its growing pains, virtualisation has matured and is finally being perceived as a must-have for large enterprises in order for them to continue expanding. Indeed, Gartner has predicted that it will still be one of the most important technologies for businesses in 2011.
Until recently, virtualisation was seen as a small fish in an ocean of enterprise technologies. But in recent times, it has begun to be taken more seriously. A recent Forrester study found that 91% of businesses are using server virtualisation for production workloads, up from 78% last year. To reflect this vast shift in the market, change is also needed in the way virtualisation is sold, used and managed by resellers.
More than just a one-trick pony
While businesses have always understood that the primary purpose of virtualisation is consolidation, they are seeing broader management benefits. For example, virtualisation also makes it possible for businesses to make disaster recovery more efficient by storing vast amounts of mission-critical data in multiple locations at a fraction of the cost.
Despite this, businesses have yet to grasp the potential of virtualisation for transforming IT management strategy. For instance, in addition to reducing the costs, virtualisation can now significantly improve disaster recovery by for the first time ever allowing businesses to test the recoverability of all data. Moreover, without the knowledge of the true value it can bring, the growth of virtualisation may well be cut short.
It is here that resellers have significant role in helping accelerate the maturity of virtualisation and must now look to develop their skills and knowledge to reflect this strategic opportunity and in turn increase sales and profitability.
As is often the case, larger enterprises tend to only show interest in a technology at a strategic level when it fits with their management suites. Therefore, it’s important to demonstrate an understanding of how and why virtualisation must be integrated into these consoles. With the sheer number of virtual machines deployed in a typical enterprise, failure to understand any faults or issues that occur can significantly delay the responsiveness of IT departments.
There are also range of virtualisation platforms in the enterprise including VMware vSphere and Microsoft’s Hyper-V. Each has its own merits and the goal for any IT department is to ensure there is a consistent and integrated approach for managing both. More importantly, resellers need to be equipped with both the technical and consulting skills necessary to ensure both these virtual platforms can co-exist within the enterprise.
In return for taking a more grown-up approach to virtualisation, this revenue stream can move from being a straightforward software licensing play to a much more lucrative strategic offering. On the flip side, attempts to up-sell these management capabilities without any formal training and indeed accreditation (very much a necessity when it comes to strategic management solutions), could mean it never really gets off the ground.