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Virtualization: Article

How to Address IT Needs in Today's Economy Through Virtualization

The biggest opportunity is to sell business continuity and DR alongside virtualization

The current economic crisis is affecting how organizations look at their IT. Existing systems are being stretched to increase their value, while investment in new systems is under greater scrutiny than ever before. For the channel, customers are demanding more from their spending. While this is putting some "nice-to-have" projects in jeopardy, money is still available in IT budgets for initiatives that can deliver real results both now and in the future.

For resellers that specialize in business continuity or disaster recovery (DR), this can be frustrating. Protecting critical infrastructure and applications provides real value back to the business, but putting this in economic terms can be hard - it's only when something goes wrong that a DR initiative proves its worth. Overcoming this barrier ahead of a problem can be achieved by demonstrating how investment in IT can deliver more value than being just a "tick in the box" insurance policy.

Another issue that resellers are facing is how to justify IT investment at a higher level within the business. Even when the IT team is fully behind a project, the board at an organization may not now provide the go-ahead without evidence of financial benefits back to the business. Whereas previously there was recognition that some initiatives would be a necessary cost for the business to incur, these schemes are less likely to receive the green light now.

Because of this, return on investment (ROI) tools and calculators are making a comeback. Customers are actively requesting access to these resources as part of the sales process to support their proposals and increase the likelihood of them being signed off. For resellers, providing ROI information on just DR will not be as effective as building it into a bigger overall strategy.

The best route to achieving this aim is through understanding how a customer is developing their strategy, and looking to support these longer-term goals through IT. Instead of simply protecting applications or services, DR can be used as part of a wider company strategy by supporting a more dynamic approach to IT infrastructure.

Virtualization in particular is helping this process; organizations are looking at virtualizing their IT to save on management overheads and reduce spending on hardware. Virtualization also makes business continuity planning simpler - applications are independent of the physical hardware, rather than being tied to a specific server.

However, this reduction in physical IT has a knock-on effect; because there are fewer servers in place, the overall risk profile for the applications and services goes up. DR therefore becomes more important due to the number of services that could be affected in the event of a failure. While virtualization can make a stronger case for investment through reducing costs and improving flexibility, DR planning and skills are essential to ensure that this dynamic infrastructure vision is really delivered.

The overheads that are associated with traditional approaches to DR are also now being looked at as areas for potential cost savings. A good example of this is tape-based back-up; while it is cheap to implement tape initially, the cost of recovery and the risk of the process failing has led to greater opportunities for more layered approaches to DR.

Bringing data replication, virtualization and tape together provides a solution that can achieve recovery much faster compared with using tape alone. The investment in new technology required replaces the manual processes that are involved, while savings can be achieved through both cutting the window of downtime experienced during a failure and reducing the risk that a back-up is not successful.

For the channel, the biggest opportunity is to sell business continuity and DR alongside virtualization as part of a wider solution. This can make a move over to virtual IT work in the longer term, not just at the start. Channel partners can also look to provide managed services around data replication and hosting to take some of the pain away from the customer, as well as reducing upfront expenditure.

Putting the right emphasis in place for the future, with business continuity considered from the outset, can ensure that organizations see the results that they expect and that IT delivers what it is supposed to. Channel organizations can deliver this to their customers by putting together the right mix of solutions, along with the service and consultancy required to make the system fulfill what the customer wants.

For the IT team at the end-user organization, this delivers what they want from their IT infrastructure, while it also makes justifying the outlay simpler in terms of ROI. More important, DR tools can provide the foundation for greater flexibility and a proven business benefit, even in the event of them not being used for their specific purpose of recovery after failure.

For customers who are looking at their DR systems, a return back to the business is being questioned. For DR resellers, being able to put more value into their projects, while retaining margin opportunities and adding in more services, is the route to success. By looking at managed services and working strategically with the customer, DR resellers can provide more direct business benefit rather than just insurance.

More Stories By Brace Rennels

Brace Rennels is a passionate and experienced interactive marketing professional who thrives on building high energy marketing teams to drive global web strategies, SEO, social media and online PR web marketing. Recognized as an early adopter of technology and applying new techniques to innovative creative marketing, drive brand awareness, lead generation and revenue. As a Sr. Manager Global of Website Strategies his responsibilities included developing and launching global social media, SEO and web marketing initiatives and strategy. Recognized for applying innovative solutions to address unique problems and manage business relationships to effectively accomplish enterprise objectives. An accomplished writer, blogger and author for several publications on various marketing, social media and technical subjects such as industry trends, cloud computing, virtualization, website marketing, disaster recovery and business continuity. Publications include CIO.com, Enterprise Storage Journal, TechNewsWorld, Sys-Con, eWeek and Peer to Peer Magazine. Follow more of Brace's writing on his blog: http://bracerennels.com

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