It’s almost a given that the enterprise customer has either adopted a virtualisation strategy, or is aware enough of the technology to have its own reasons for responding ‘not now’. In the SMB space, however, things are not as certain. While virtualisation has been around for eight years, it’s only recently started to push into the SMB space, and many customers are still either unaware of the technology, or don’t have the capabilities to rollout a virtualisation solution. That’s where partners can come in. But before the SMB can be a lucrative market for the systems integrator, they need to properly understand what virtualisation is to the SMB, and what they hope to achieve by investing in the technology.
The real reason for virtualisation
No SMB is looking at virtualisation for the sake of doing virtualisation. It’s a simple truth which also applies to the entire industry – enterprises are unlikely to be caught by a buzzword without a tangible benefit at the end of the rollout tunnel themselves – but it’s a truth that is often forgotten at the lower end of town. Enterprises have large-scale infrastructure concerns, so they’ll look for virtualisation solutions that aid in consolidating assets. SMBs just want to get the job done. That might sound flippant, but the typical SMB simply hasn’t got the resources or inclination to chase after intimidating-sounding technology, nor do they have the direct touch with a vendor to properly investigate the opportunities.
A partner with the ability to break down those barriers and demonstrate the value of a virtualised solution to the SMB market is therefore in a great position.
“In the SMB space, they’re not aware of the solutions they’re looking for,” Regal IT managing director, Mark Gluckman, said. “They may have heard about it, but they don’t have direct access to the vendors that the medium enterprise customers would have, and they wouldn’t be on any sort of invitation list.”
Some SMBs are quite technologically savvy, while others exist within a community in which friends or competitors have virtualised. But without proper exposure, even those SMBs have a high reliance on their network or systems integrator for advice on what should be done.
According the Gluckman, a number of roles for partners exist beyond the advisory role. For those SMBs with internalised IT resources, the partner can move to third-level support, putting an environment onto a managed service contract with regular health checks and maintenance.
At the other end of the spectrum, SMBs might want to completely outsource the environment – the customer won’t care what’s going on in the back-end as long as the systems and applications are being looked after and the SLAs are being met.
Regardless of the level of engagement, however, virtualisation is a technology that Regal IT encourages SMBs of all levels to look at – for disaster recovery purposes if nothing else.
“Even it it’s a single application on a single server, you can still virtualise it because it still gives you the ability to move that application to another physical server should a failure occur,” Gluckman said. “They might not have that second server onsite, and might not be able to afford a second, but we can still copy the virtual server to a disc, move it somewhere else and have the customer up and going in a short amount of time.”