Worlds Collide at Channel SummitBy Frank Ohlhorst | Posted 2008-02-12 Email Print
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Green technology and managed services were the big topics at the event. Can a symbiotic relationship be built between the two that benefits all involved?
At the Ziff Davis Enterprise Channel Summit in Dallas on Feb. 7, a great deal of interest was generated around two very topical subjects: green technology and managed services. For the most part, the discussions were cordial in nature, but some VARs did express some serious doubts about the motivation behind each of those technologies.
First off, a number of VARs felt that "green" was just the latest buzzword and most business would only go the green route if savings could be generated in the near term. In other words, the majority of businesses won’t be "greening" their data centers just to be on the green bandwagon! That said, many of the VARs felt that if a data center is being re-engineered anyway, then there is an opportunity for selling green technology.
Interestingly, there really seems to be little opportunity to apply green technology to the small business, a segment that could really appreciate the savings. After all, a small business owner would notice a $50 or so savings on the electric bill, while a CEO of a Fortune 1000 might not notice a savings of $5,000 or more on the corporate electricity bill.
Managed services seem to follow a different train of thought. Some VARs said that becoming an MSP is not the answer to servicing their small business customers and that the services offered are on the verge of becoming a commodity. Yet, there were others who have made the transition from the typical VAR to the uber-VAR by jumping on the managed services merry-go-round.
Even so, both green technology and MSP offerings proved to be subjects of a contentious nature, with few agreeing on much of anything, except that both technologies will only experience growth in the future.
While at first blush, both managed services and green technology seem like they should be at different ends of the technology spectrum, there is a major opportunity for synergy here, especially for VARs servicing the small business customer. The question comes down to this: What is the best way for a small business to reduce its power footprint while also reducing hardware and service costs?
If a VAR was to set up as an MSP offering hosted services, software as a service and remote management, the reduction in power and hardware costs to the customer could be substantial. Big businesses have tackled the very same issues by using co-location providers; why not apply the same concepts to the small business market? The advantages are many here. Customers can "green" their IT needs by eliminating their server closets and the associated hardware; a fast broadband connection with a router becomes their primary means of accessing their applications and data. VARs can charge for the basic services, storage needed, support and many other elements on a per-seat charge and build a long-term relationship with customers with ongoing revenue.
And the sales process should become easier because the VAR is counting on the customer’s desire to save energy, become greener and experience better service as the primary driver for the change. It shifts all of the arguments against MSP-based solutions to the background and helps to build a relationship that is good for the environment and is collaborative in nature (pun intended)!
So instead of looking at all the perceived negatives of green technology and MSP services, perhaps the time has come to rethink how VARs deal with small businesses and capitalize on their needs.