10 Growing Markets You Haven't Yet Considered

The CRN Test Center Lays Out Less-Hyped Areas That Can Bring Big Opportunity

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Virtual Appliances

After years of examining both hardware-based and software-based appliances in the CRN Test Center lab, we’ve come to this conclusion: In the lion’s share of cases, software-based virtual appliances should simply be the default choice for a number of reasons.

For starters, a reduction of hardware infrastructure can mean an important reduction in overhead for any enterprise. That overhead includes power consumption, management, cooling costs and architecture. Then there’s simply the fact that industry-standard servers based on Intel’s or Advanced Micro Devices’ technology can now support servers that host anywhere from a half-dozen virtual appliances or more.

We’ve had the opportunity to examine a number of valuedriven, virtual appliances over the past several months.

Melville, N.Y.-based FalconStor has come to the fore with a number of virtual solutions in storage management, including its Network Storage Server Appliance. It is built on a Red Hat Linux 5 platform and supports VMware ESX.

More recently, in the past several weeks, we’ve had a chance to examine the Sophos Virtual Email Appliance e-mail security and data protection solution, which is optimized for VMware. Previous Sophos solutions have come into our lab as hardware-based appliances and, while we’ve often recommended them in the past, Sophos executives say their partners and customers have been calling for virtual solutions.

The installation of the Sophos Virtual Email Appliance took a few minutes, although configuration -- as with hardware-based appliances -- varies depending on the needs and size of an enterprise. However, licensing of $41.75 per year, per seat is the same as the hardware appliance without the hardware cost. We find it to be just as effective as Sophos hardware-based appliances as well.

For VARs that have experienced customer reluctance to embark on server consolidation because of the need to maintain these appliances, what we see is an elimination of that excuse. Virtual e-mail, security, storage and management appliances can cut down on hardware costs and expand opportunities to unlock even more IT value for enterprises of all sizes.

If an organization is running hardware appliances in its data center, the smart bet is that migrating them to virtual appliances will benefit just about all.

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