Channel Preps for Windows Server 2003 End of LifeBy Gina Roos | Print
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The channel's role revolves around helping SMBs migrate to newer technologies, even if it's too late to meet the Windows Server 2003 end-of-support deadline.
"One of the things channel partners can do and should be doing is helping clients start with an assessment of their current state," agreed Keith Groom, director of Microsoft Solutions at Softchoice, one of North America's largest Microsoft resellers.
Channel providers, like Tech Data and Softchoice, have developed their own methodologies and programs to help in the migration.
For example, Tech Data created a dedicated portal, Windows Server 2003 Migration Hub, to help educate its reseller partners on what is involved in helping customers deal with Windows Server 2003 end of support. The program provides solution providers with end-of-life (EOL) support, security patches, technical support and content updates.
In addition, it gives resellers new sales opportunities, leads and marketing tools to maximize business opportunities during the migration. "As with any kind of transformation, it creates opportunities at many levels from re-architecting to migrating, and to ongoing support of an aging system," said Davis.
In addition, with the recent acquisition of Signature Technology Group (STG), a provider of data center and professional services in North America, Tech Data's reseller partners have access to professional services that can help them with assessment, design and migration.
An assessment is an important part of the process, Groom agreed. "Once you have that data from the assessment, you can put the different applications and workloads into various categories so you can prioritize them by role, by [how critical they are] and by business requirements, and from there, define their current state," he said.
"We developed a very specific assessment methodology [TechCheck], where we can do a very quick assessment of what applications and servers are at risk and help them identify and prioritize them so they can create a migration schedule," said Groom.
Softchoice can help identify the best solutions, whether that is leveraging a public cloud, virtualization options or upgrading/refreshing the infrastructure. It's an assessment and consulting process around their applications environment infrastructure, explained Groom.
"It's not like a typical refresh," he added. "This is very different because clients can have a whole new plethora of options open to them. For example, they can retire an application and buy a SaaS application to replace a functionality. They might decide to move that app to the cloud and then they need to decide which cloud platform to move it to, and how are they going to manage the application that sits in the cloud. They are unsure of the right path."
However, Groom said they are not putting 10 options on the table. "We are helping them narrow their choices, not create a bunch of confusion."
The value and differentiation of Softchoice's tool is how the company analyzes and creates actionable reporting for the client, said Groom. "We'll give them a deliverable that says here is the data and here are our conclusions and recommendations based on the data. Other partners can add value around similar methodologies, creating customer insights from the data."
"There are the four major options clients have—refresh hardware/software, move to the cloud—they might need to set up a private cloud or hybrid IT infrastructure, or they might just shut off the application and pay for a SaaS to replace it. The degree to which you can help customers narrow down on a path would be my best advice for partners," said Groom.