Getting expert help

By Channel Insider Staff  |  Print this article Print

Return-on-investment calculations may have been more about marketing than substance in the past, but increasingly customers want solution providers to produce provable numbers.

Many solution providers lack the skills or tools to produce real-world, provable ROI assessments, but there is help. Vendors and distributors are stepping forward with the necessary tools and services.

"Our vendor partners are extremely useful for us," Heartland’s May said. "Because we offer so many solutions, we oftentimes may not have the expertise to drill down in the way that a vendor does. We try to utilize all the resources we can."

Avnet, for example, offers its OneTech CIA (Consolidation Impact Assessment) service, which helps solution providers perform server, storage consolidation and Unix server consolidation assessments for customers. The methodology provides technical and financial analyses of current server and storage environments as well as recommendations for future system investments based on anticipated demands and TCO.

As part of its CIA service, Avnet collects comprehensive server performance and workload data over several weeks to determine how much processing power and memory are being used in a customer’s data center. Avnet also evaluates the financial aspects of a server environment, focusing on the hard-costs model, which calculates actual expenses related to systems purchasing, power consumption, heating and cooling, system management resources, and downtime due to standard maintenance requirements.

Many vendors provide sophisticated tools and services that go well beyond the simplistic free calculators found online. VMware’s Capacity Planner is a hosted application service that lets solution providers and their customers assess the current capacity of an IT infrastructure; benchmark, trend and identify alternatives; run through various scenarios; and then monitor resources on an ongoing basis.

HP offers a blade server tool that allows VARs to perform formal cost justifications based on data center space and the cost of equipment, management support, installation and more. "This kind of tool is useful when the CFO or CIO requires a more formal and in-depth cost justification because it allows the VAR to calculate costs based on the existing, exact costs at the customer site," Sinclair said.


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