Virtualization Is Just a Tool, Says Expert

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print

Virtualization maven Dave Sobel says solution providers must stop treating virtualization as a solution and use it as a tool to meet business needs and objectives. Virtualization as a tool enables better sales opportunities.

A new state program in Virginia provides $35,000 grants to businesses that allow employees to telecommute. With virtualization, small businesses can extend applications and data to remote workers, providing the same user experience and productivity capabilities as if they’re in the office.

But virtualization is not the solution that enables small businesses to participate in this state program, says David Sobel, a managed service provider turned virtualization maven. Virtualization, he says, is one of the tools or components that enable businesses to reach an operational goal.

For solution providers, that means being less enamored with the technology of virtualization and more about where virtualization fits in a business’ operational framework and goals. Focusing more on the technology rather than the solution is a mistake that many solution providers are making.

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"There’s a ton of guys out there who will tell you how to make the hypervisor run faster, but no one is telling solution providers how to sell it," says Sobel, who is founder and CEO of Evolve Technologies.

Virtualization is one of the best-selling and fastest-growing technologies in the channel. According to the Channel Insider 2009 Market Pulse Report, virtualization is the third most profitable technology and the second most in demand by customers. Large and midsized enterprises are using virtualization to reduce their data center footprint and small businesses are using the technology to extend the life of servers.

Sobel, who wrote the book "Virtualization: Defined a Primer for the SMB Consultant," says solution providers will miss opportunities and suffer price and margin erosion if they fail to put virtualization into a business context. He equates the current state of virtualization sales to that of the early managed services market, in which nascent MSPs were selling based on the functionality of tools and not the value-added services.

"Virtualization is a tool, not the solution," says Sobel. "It’s managed services all over again. It’s not about virtualization, but what you can do with it. People are struggling to sell it because you go into a client and say 'buy my shiny new product’ and the customer says 'great, another shiny product.’"

Once solution providers understand the business needs and goals of customers, Sobel says they can apply virtualization in multiple ways to meet those needs, such as building a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to optimize a company’s telecommuting needs.

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"Virtualization is the stuff to get people to the next generation of solutions without being in the upgrade bind," says Sobel.



Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.