NETAPP LEVERAGE THE VIRTUALISATION TREND TO HELP CLIENTS OVERCOME BUSINESS PROCESS ISSUES
Deriving benefits from virtualisation technology is clearly a good thing according to director of partner and public sector for storage vendor NetApp, Scott Morris. But leveraging the opportunity of implementing a virtualisation solution to help a client improve their overall business processes is a chance not to be passed up.
While virtualisation first became popular in the server space, these days virtualised infrastructures aim to reduce costs and improve efficiency across a much broader spectrum of the IT system.
"If you look at where virtualisation sits, and if you look at where the industry is now, it very much got born out of the server virtualisation perspective," Morris said. "I don't think anyone would argue that that is where most of the hype or market presence has come from."
But those looking to use virtualisation should not just look at how they will deploy the technology - they should also take the opportunity to evaluate internal processes, according to Morris.
"What have I actually done within my organisation to change the processes?" he questioned. "If you only look at one element in the virtualised environment, then the bottleneck has just moved somewhere else in the infrastructure."
Indeed, if a client has a business process that is inefficient to start off with and then deploys virtualisation, obviously the fundamental problem still exists. Even if you put the best technology in place you must deal with the provisioning, planning and security processes and back-end issues, Morris said.
This is particularly the case with large organisations that are coming up against scale and growth pains. Consequently, this state of affairs proffers an opportunity for the channel to advise the client to look holistically at their business.
"While it is easy to say that, the reason why organisations are in the state that they are is because typically they don't look at their business from the operational side," Morris said. "And they look to the IT side of the organisation as the utopia to go and fix a bunch of problems."
For Morris it doesn't matter if you have the greatest product on the market - unless you affect the business operations any solution will have a limited impact.
"It'll only be best utilised and best taken advantage of if we can impact and go in and help organisations change the way they are doing things," he said. "It's a great opportunity for the channel; the highest margin and highest value product set for our channel are those consulting opportunities."
IDC research manager IT spending, JEAN-MARC ANNONIER, shares his thoughts on the virtualisation market.
While virtualisation used to be predominantly an enterprise play, IDC research manager IT spending, Jean-Marc Annonier, claims the scope of the game will change in coming years.
Highlighting the spread of virtualisation to different aspects of the IT infrastructure, he said most corporations were targeting virtualisation for its flexibility.
"Obviously going physical is not very flexible but any layer of virtualisation is very flexible because by definition it is very easy to change and you don't have physical stuff to do or change," Annonier said. "So [for example] if you are going to change your storage in a virtualised manner it is much easier than adding hard disk."
And aside from competition between VMware, Citrix and Microsoft in the server virtualisation space over management tools and the imminent uptake of dynamic computing (including VDI), Annonier believes the market will look to systems that are self healing - like Marathon's everRun product - to hedge the risk involved in moving to fewer, centralised servers.
"You do have a single point of failure if your physical server is going down," Annonier explained about virtual infrastructures.
"What the vendors are pushing for is the creation of solutions for unplanned downtime. So if the server goes down you get the same instance running on another physical server which would kick in straight away with no interruption to the service. That's the big thing in the coming years."
But potentially just as big is what the analyst called the "perfect solution" for SMBs being offered by France Telecom in Europe. Under the telco's 'Forfait Informatique' (IT package) for Euro 99 a month an SMB can get a fully virtualised IT service; a style of package Annonier reckoned may become popular in Australia.
"They manage everything for you - you have your desktop, you have your application, you have your storage," Annonier said. "All you have in your environment is a thin client and access to the Internet. And that is the way I see SMB going."