How VARs Can Boost Business Selling IT Tools

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As technology evolves, your customers are constantly trying to keep up. They don't always know what they need, or why the need it. Bluehawk Networks' CEO Lichorowic advises solution providers to position themselves as trusted advisors, helping as they adopt highly-integrated IT tool technology to integrating all business aspects and managing information seamlessly.— Jennifer Bosavage

When VARs are engaged with their customers regarding IT tools, one idea should permeate thinking: “Their customer’s job is rapidly getting much harder.” Between cloud transition initiatives and the proliferation of device types demanding some degree of system management, things are getting trickier every quarter. How can you recommend a solution when the problem is constantly changing? What can you recommend they adopt that will effectively help solve their IT management problems? How will they afford new systems or software, and how effectively can the products you’re selling be deployed to demonstrably improve service to their organization? Thinking like an IT manager facing such escalating challenges will substantially boost your stock, and you'll become a more valuable resource, rather than a business just selling products.

How Technology Requirements Are Evolving
IT departments have learned their sole purpose is supporting business objectives and users, not collecting and maintaining communications and computing technology. Unfortunately, corporate leadership has not yet learned how incredibly valuable IT departments are, or what’s needed to effectively deliver IT services. The IT cutbacks in government, state and private sectors, the overwhelming demand for new services, as well keeping existing ones continues, but with reduced capital resources. Therefore the growing need to streamline and provide cloud IT services.

Perhaps most significantly, the very nature of IT is rapidly changing. Businesses are realizing that clear, current information about personnel, customers, vendors, and all types of assets, provide an incredible market advantage. For many sectors, information is the business and its competitive edge. Additionally, CIOs are demanding that one platform be run for all services. Only problem is, the latest and coolest applications coming out are cloud-based. Yet, what are installed are legacy systems often requiring a full-time team to operate.

As a result, in spite of powerful budget reduction pressures to support existing and new infrastructure for less, market motion is being invested in cloud computing solutions known by various “AAS’s” i.e. SAAS, PAAS and IAAS. The estimated U.S. market size for virtualization and cloud infrastructure was $9.7B for 2010 and is expected to grow to $20.6B by 2013. With the dramatic cost savings allowed by cloud computing service adoption and the great need for integrated management solutions supporting these changes, worldwide market growth is expected to show the same dramatic growth.

Why IT Management is Getting Tougher
IT Management is facing the growing complexity of virtual servers, desktops and how to monitor and manage it all. Adding to these headaches are a galaxy of un-integrated communications and computing devices, including smart phones and tablets plus Macs in PC environments, all with or without IT’s permission. Addressing and solving this double-edged, expanding service/system complexity challenge requires complete access to all information 24/7. However, existing tools are either too expensive or can’t integrate into existing systems. Such a balancing act also demands a closely integrated tool set including automated resource provisioning, real-time analytics and chargeback implementation within a signal pane of glass, not numerous open windows.

Of course IT tool market leaders tell customers, “We’ve been providing these for years.” That is somewhat true in random combinations but the killer is the price tag. Getting all this with today’s legacy solutions, prepare to write a check with lots of zeros. Also count on at least a year to install it. The VAR’s problem is legacy software providers sell and service directly and cut out the entire channel.

How IT Managers Think

The goal is increasing productivity using what’s available while investing in a fully-integrated IT management system letting the enterprise realize the financial benefits. When management truly understands their IT spend they can accurately calculate returns. The bigger lever required for this huge task is coming. Keeping your customers’ ITSM challenge in mind will help you be a more effective VAR.

How the Cloud Transition Affects the IT Tools Market
The promise of the cloud certainly offers many potential advantages. It can provide greater resource efficiency, power savings, real estate benefits, and most of all, it can save lots of money. However, if the IT infrastructure in an organization is not managed through the methodical application of best service management practices (i.e., ITIL), migration to the cloud will both increase IT overhead as well as headaches.

What’s occurring, in this relatively overlooked market, dominated by a few large legacy vendors, is a convergence named “ITSM/Cloud Acceleration.” For the first time, we’re seeing service desk applications being integrated into virtual services and all being monitored MAAS 24/7. This coming year will see the inflexion point where three previously separate vertical markets converge and positively affect IT management. The three sectors are:

  • Network Monitoring Services, MAAS
  • Virtual Services IAAS
  • ITSM Service Management SAAS

    The ITSM market is at the intersection of the three formerly separate ones shown above. What’s required and coming will provide IT management with an architecture managing and monitoring assets through a single pane of glass and encompassing private, public or hybrid clouds. It will deliver insight into how computing resources are seamlessly moving data between the two clouds. More importantly, what’s next in IT tools dramatically enhances the customer experience into the cloud by increasing management capabilities in automatic resource provisioning of, providing real-time analytics and implementing chargeback capabilities so IT can become a profit center rather than a glaring cost. Most significantly, this new architecture rapidly adapts, allowing IT to become the catalyst for business acceleration. It’s an exciting prospect.

    Competitive businesses aren’t silo-ed. IT management continually focuses on integrating all business aspects and managing information seamlessly. Adopting highly-integrated IT tool technology makes this possible. As the IT management tool market evolves, essential components will increasingly become integrated into ubiquitous information management. Further, an underlying software platform is essential to integrating this triple play in IT tool innovation. That last requirement was repeatedly referenced in Forrester’s July 2011 Market Overview on IT Process Automation.

    How to Help IT Managers
    The goal is finding vendors with a cloud-based IT tool set that’s willing to sell through the channel. Get trained. Don't get in the habit of “taking orders.” Stay up on the new technology. Set a goal to increase productivity, while your customer continues to invest in a fully integrated IT management system. The bigger lever required for this huge task is coming. Keeping your customers’ ITSM challenge in mind will help you be a more effective VAR.

    Bottom Line
    1. Find a source that’s channel-friendly that develops an ITSM cloud-based tool set.
    2. Get trained…way too many times VARs get in the habit of just “taking orders” and not staying up on the new technology.
    3. Stay focused and set goals to increase your productivity while continuing to invest in a fully integrated IT management system.

    4. Keep your customers’ ITSM challenge in mind this will help you be a more effective VAR.

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