SMB Virtualization Alters the Channel Partner Landscape

By Doug Allen Comments
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Research group AMI-Partners has issued a report that finds U.S. SMBs are quickly adopting virtualization technologies, which impacts their entire infrastructure. As logical partitioning of resources extends to the SMBs' IT equipment, particularly servers, these customers require a different set of skills from their channel partners. AMI calls for IT vendors, distributors and channel partners to accept, if not embrace, this trend, and find ways to help customers upgrade their entire “ecosystem.”

“Driven by their need to optimize IT infrastructure – especially in the current economic environment and enabled by increasing availability of SMB-focused  products from virtualization vendors – there has been a significant increase in SMB virtualization adoption (servers, clients, storage, applications) over the last year,” says Anil Miglani, senior vice president of IT Infrastructure and Managed Services Research at AMI-Partners.

Virtualization is changing IT-server purchasing patterns. While some SMBs are just starting to add new servers to their IT infrastructure, these are likely to be low-end, low-cost units, with little margins. The bulk of server profits will come from SMBs that are ready to virtualize their existing servers. But channel partners will have to step up to the plate with the necessary technical skills in order to help SMBs, who typically lack experience in virtualization. AMI advises channel partners to sharpen their own skill set to avoid the kind of trial-and-error implementations that can undermine the potential savings virtualization promises.

Many SMB channel partners are already on the case, and have started to offer their own virtualization services, but AMI finds that most of these partners are actually SMBs that lack the skills and resources required, and aren’t fully familiar with the virtualization offerings available.

Overall, AMI expects SMBs to move quickly toward virtualization for cloud computing and services. This will in turn drive customers to fewer, but more powerful servers, which will reduce equipment sales and force channel partners to become more service-centric for revenue.

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