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The data center continues to be a dynamic source of business for solution providers, despite the current economic downturn.
Which isn't to say that the bedraggled economy isn't having an impact. The most successful data center solution providers are those that have tweaked their sales pitches to focus not just on popular technologies (think virtualization, storage, blade servers, and power and cooling) but also on the new rallying cry of the down economy: return on investment.
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Because of the economy, customers are just not doing long-term projects anymore, said David Stone, vice president of business development at Solutions-II, a Littleton, Colo.-based solution provider.
"The ROI has to be incredibly quick to do anything," Stone said. "But you have to pick the right projects. Virtualization, data deduplication, WAN acceleration can all have 12-month paybacks."
When combined with related technology trends such as converged IP and storage networks, or efforts by vendors such as Cisco to converge servers, storage and networking into a single architecture, 2009 seems to be the right time for solution providers to look at new ways to help customers better manage their data centers. From quick payback to hot technologies, here are nine strategies for digging into the data center market:
1. Show Customers How To Cut Costs: Customers are under pressure to cut costs, and VARs are under that same pressure to help them do so. Since the data center is typically the cost giant, there's no better place to trim the fat and tighten up the bottom line.
A staggering 42 percent of VARs responding to the CRN State of Technology: Data Center suryvey said reducing costs is the key objective customers now hope to reach through the implementation of data center solutions. In addition, a massive 40 percent of solution providers surveyed said cost and budget are the greatest challenges customers face today when grappling with the data center.
Bob Olwig, vice president of corporate business development for St. Louis-based solution provider World Wide Technology Inc. (WWT) said he's seen firsthand that customers are turning to data center solutions that can save not only on operating costs, but also capital expenditures.
Virtualization and data center consolidation can cut hardware and software maintenance costs, while also reducing customers' data center footprints and whittling down power and utility spending, Olwig said.
"The economy is forcing companies to reduce their CapEx and IT budgets," he said. "Energy costs have gone up, and they're a big cost in the data center. And real estate is scarce; companies are running out of physical space."
At the same time, Olwig said, CIOs remain under pressure to roll out new applications and support more branch offices, and the budget is not growing to accommodate that. That's where consolidation and virtualization truly come into play, he said.
"Virtualization helps customers cut and manage costs and still solve business issues," he said.