Page 5 of 5
8. Amp Up Application Servers: Solution providers pointed to application servers as the enterprise application technology that offers the best profit opportunity in the data center over the next 12 months.
Adam Steinhoff, president and CEO of DedicatedIT, a division of Steinhoff Consulting, a West Palm Beach, Fla.-based solution provider, said he's noticed increased attention around application servers, especially as it pertains to is Citrix business. DedicatedIT offers Citrix XenApp, an application delivery system that manages applications in the data center and delivers them as an on-demand service to users.
"We have heard a lot more noise recently by both our smaller and larger customer bases," he said. Steinhoff said smaller companies are turning to application servers to deliver better application performance without the need to replace PCs. Larger customers are turning to application servers to drive disaster recovery and business continuity, using a centralized application delivery system vs. delivery applications from various data center locations, he said.
"We've sold more [Citrix] XenApp in the last year than the previous years," he said, noting that application servers tie into overall virtualization strategies, which start with a virtualized desktop and then move to application delivery.
"People still have to upgrade and when it's time, application virtualization will be a big play," he said. "If they're going to spend money and it has to be done, my bet is on application virtualization."
Software-as-a-Service and cloud computing are also capturing mind share among solution providers, as 60 percent of surveyed partners said they currently offer those solutions to data center customers. Among partners that are not currently offering SaaS or cloud computing solutions, nearly half plan to add them to their portfolios over the next 12 months, according to the survey.
9. Don't Forget Services: There are huge opportunities to attach services to a variety of data center technologies, with virtualization providing the No. 1 services opportunity, according to surveyed channel partners.
About 95 percent of solution providers are offering professional or technical services of some sort to their data center customers, with design/configuration, implementation and integration topping the list of services partners are offering.
Of all the different technologies in the data center, server virtualization seems to be the most commonly cited opportunity for attaching services, followed by application, storage and desktop virtualization. Disaster recovery, networked storage and blade servers were also cited by VARs as big services opportunities in the data center.
For solution providers, this means product sales by themselves no longer provide the kind of value that customers require, said Kip Lindberg, vice president of enterprise sales at Ncell Systems, a Minnetonka, Minn.-based solution provider and partner to Sun Microsystems and IBM.
"It's a wild world," Lindberg said. "You better have a value-add. But if your value-add is selling products, you'd better be worried."
For Ncell, services is now the key to doing business, Lindberg said.
"We may have one of our storage architects in place at a customer site for 18 months helping to develop a strategy, and then we start to bring in products," he said. "Once we are in place, we try to drive customers' projects including services, project management and implementation. A lot of those customers may be HP shops, and there's no way we are going to push HP out. But we can be there driving additional services like virtualization."
By expanding their data center services capabilities, forward-thinking solution providers are on the right path to the next technology prize, which is cloud computing, said Jim Guinn, executive vice president of the solutions division of Partners Consulting, a Buena Park, Calif.-based solution provider.
"Look at SaaS," Guinn said. "It's a way for customers to get away from the raised floors, piping, software and management, and treat IT as a run-time, ad-hoc cost. When someone says, 'I'd like to understand cloud computing,' they're looking at a new way of doing the same thing: They need it so they'll use it, or they don't so they won't pay for it."
Joseph F. Kovar, Andrew R. Hickey, Stefanie Hoffman and Brian Kraemer contributed to this story.