As discussed, incorporating colocation and ancillary services into your overall solution can achieve both goals — more revenue for you and more value for your client. But there are additional areas to explore when qualifying a client for a data center solution. This will help you more quickly identify the right solution set, solve business challenges and maximize value for your client.
- What security or compliance needs does the customer have? You can provide a value-added solution by letting them know about your compliance capabilities and layering on security solutions that the customer may not have had the resources or expertise to handle themselves. Understanding which compliance and regulatory obligations your client faces will ensure your solution is viable. To effectively meet your customers’ needs, reviewing the security, governance and risk management framework of policies, procedures and standards is essential. Customers that are public, in health care or provide credit card services, for example, often need to meet SSAE 16 SOC 1 and 3, HIPAA, PCI industry standard compliance requirements, and often many more. Identify these requirements upfront in your discovery phase, and you will further ensure the data center solution you present complies with their specific needs.
- People make a difference: What is the status of IT staffing for your client? Does the company have technical staff available around the clock to handle IT support? Is there a need to augment staff after hours? You should also ask about the skill level of existing staff. By stepping through the number of staff and level of expertise available, it will further fine-tune your overall recommended solution.
- Buy vs. lease = capex vs. opex. It’s clear that purchasing all of the software, equipment and licenses to support an IT infrastructure can be expensive, not to mention all of the costs, expertise and time associated with the maintenance and management of the life cycle of the gear. Work through both options with your potential client. The capex model includes the total package of buying servers, routers, firewalls, switches and more, while an opex model considers outsourcing the IT platform to a data center provider that offers ancillary services such as hosting, managed services and cloud configurations. By reviewing the capex vs. opex models with your client upfront, you can identify a plan that meets their requirements today and allows for scalability, growth and adoption of newer technologies in the future.
Emerging opportunities for the channel do not consist of just simple efforts to identify products. Knowing all aspects of your client’s business landscape will help you create a cohesive, robust client solution that solves business problems. When you position yourself as a business partner, not just a vendor, it results in a partnership that benefits both parties — including an increase in the revenue stream to you and your company and the added benefit of the customer becoming a long-term client, to boot.
Monty Reagan is vice president of channel sales for ViaWest .