Server Virtualization's Time Has Come For VARs

server virtualization

"There is huge potential in server virtualization, and it's barely been scratched," Kovar said. "It's the low hanging fruit for the channel."

Kovar said that there are several drivers of the market, such as low barrier to entry for resellers. In addition, the growth spurt means that there's not a great deal of pressure from competitors -- it's still a green concept for a lot of customers.

According the findings of the CMP Channel 2008 State of the Market Study, only 22.6 percent of solution providers are currently selling or recommending virtualization products. However, of the VARs that do sell in this area, 20 percent or one-fifth of them have seen revenue in the past 12 months that came from server virtualization-related solutions and services.

Of those VARs that currently sell or recommend virtualization products, 62.9 percent said they plan on selling server-hosted virtualization, followed by 55.2 percent who expect to sell virtual desktop PCs. VARs are also seeing growth in selling hypervisor-based server virtualization and 49.1 percent plan on selling these products to their customers, while 47.4 percent of VARs plan to sell storage virtualization software.

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Kovar said that the biggest growth potential for server virtualization solutions in the next 12 to 18 months lies with the small- and mid-market customers, which together, make up 70 percent of possible sales.

Another point: virtualization is not just a one-time hit in selling a product, but an opportunity for VARs to go out, consult, install and provide ongoing maintenance.

So, the question for those not already in the game is: how do I get started? Kovar offered several suggestions.

He pointed back to the point of a low barrier to enter the market. Virtualization manufacturers of course want you to sell their product, and to do so, most are providing free online training and certification.

Another obvious but major point, Kovar said, is to consider your client's needs. He said that since VARs are familiar enough with their customer's needs, they must be proactive and sometimes even tell them what they don't know they need. After all, VARs are the ones with the knowledge and expertise.

The biggest selling points VARs can bring up: ROI.

Solution providers can explain to their clients that by using virtual servers they get certain benefits like consolidating real estate by getting rid of physical servers. Lower cooling costs from using virtual servers equals saving power. Disaster recovery is another selling point: instead of having 10 servers in a primary datacenter, and 10 more backups in a secondary datacenter, it would make more sense if operations fail- over to a remote site -- which can also be maintained by a VAR.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the channel to get out and talk to your customer about solutions they haven't thought about," Kovar said. "The trick is to not be afraid to get going."