With customers across Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) using hyper-converged infrastructure for mission critical workloads, the channel has reached an inflection point in the market.
Because as the industry evolves, systems that combine compute, storage and networking capabilities in a single server are gaining traction among CIOs seeking the same efficiencies offered by cloud services.
Consequently, what started as a niche market is rapidly racing towards mainstream adoption, with partners primed to capitalise on the changing demands of the end-user.
“As Australian businesses embark on the digital transformation journey, their IT requirements will change significantly,” Dell EMC general manager of converged platforms and solutions A/NZ Andrew Foot said. “The IT team is playing a more important role in driving business objectives.
“To manage this shift in priorities, they need to implement a technology that encourages autonomy, reducing the man hours needed to run a successful and efficient IT infrastructure. Hyper-converged allows for easy management of the many layers of the data centre, allowing the IT team to focus on innovation that will benefit the greater business.”
In bringing together the disparate infrastructure elements that power IT — such as servers, data storage devices, networking functions, virtualisation and management software — organisations continue to leverage the capabilities of hyper- converged technologies.
Motivated by operational simplicity, customer demands are changing at a rapid rate.
“As IT organisations look to transform to remain relevant in an ever-changing market, they must reduce operating complexity and cost of their on-premise environments to invest in innovation,” Infront managing director Allan King said.
“Hyper-converged appliances promise to deliver cloud like qualities such as agility, fractional economics and operational simplicity.”
Delving deeper, the mainstream adoption of public cloud has reset expectations around the provisioning and ongoing management of data centre resources.
“As a result, customers now expect the same ease of use for on-premise equipment as they do for public cloud services, and hyper- converged infrastructure meets these expectations,” Data#3 general manager of professional services Phil Redmond added.
“The adoption of hyper-converged infrastructure allows enterprise IT to be more responsive to the changing needs of the end-user.
“By reducing both the effort required, and the time to deployment for new services, hyper-converged infrastructure refocuses efforts away from operational support activities, towards addressing higher-value business challenges; allowing our customers to be more responsive to market changes.”
By freeing up time and budgets for IT departments, the result is a renewed focus on providing a business with applications and solutions, a move designed to drive greater levels of customer satisfaction.
“We know that technology is playing an increasingly important role in our everyday lives and we expect 24/7 responses from businesses and instant access to apps,” Foot added. “Implementing a hyper-converged strategy behind the scenes will improve the overall reputation of a business with its end-users.”
In operating as a key Dell EMC partner across Australia, Staples has deep levels of expertise within the application layer, with hyper-converged an extension of the provider’s current capabilities and offerings.
“The application layer is where the innovation really sits,” Staples general manager of technology solutions Karl Sice said.
In offering a word of caution however, Sice observed that high-demand may also equal a saturation in the market, which could trigger a race to zero margin if partners compete.
“The hyper-converged play is great but also needs to be positioned,” he added. “We try to always review what our own internal IT team decide on and ask — if they like it, then why can’t we share with our customers?
“As we are a large partner with over 1,700 employees ourselves, we can showcase solutions that are already working in our own environment, which is the best reference in market and builds our credibility instantly with the customer.”
Despite opportunities ahead for partners, King acknowledged that the market has “changed significantly”, altering channel dynamics in the process.
“As a company that has specialised in enterprise storage for 12 years, we have seen hyper-convergence and the vendor ‘promise’ of simplicity commoditise the market and drive the profit margins to unsustainable levels,” he explained.
“Hardware will not figure significantly in digital transformation and will be relegated to a bit player by mature customers.
“The true opportunity for the channel exists in helping customer modernise operations and accelerate their journey to a true ‘as-a-service’ model.”
Delving deeper, Redmond believes the role of the channel, in a hyper-converged context, is to help customers maximise the business value of technology investments.
“High customer demand translates into scale, and the insights we gain from working across a large number of customers broadens our consulting, engineering and support value propositions – ultimately creating a viable channel strategy,” he added.