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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.

>> Blog Buzz: Who Moved My Virtual Firewall? <<

“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

“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.

>> [CI] Resources: Leading Desktop Virtualization Tools <<

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