Why You Don't Have To Sell SMBs On Virtualization

Source: Cisco
Bernadette Wilson

By Bernadette Wilson


Virtualization at SMBs is growing, according to a Cisco Flexpod Express Study, prepared by a group of Cisco Partners and conducted by the Blackstone Group. The study, titled “Virtualization at Small and Medium Sized Firms on the Rise,” is an in-depth survey of SMB IT managers, directors, and CIOs that concludes most SMBs use virtualization and nearly all are aware of its benefits.

Of those responding to the survey, 91 percent said virtualization would provide them with a competitive advantage, 96 percent felt they were gaining an advantage, and 71 percent who don’t currently have virtualization agreed it could provide an edge. The authors of the study report state, “In general, no matter the size of the company or budget, the study found that IT professionals don’t need to be sold on virtualization.”

Survey data shows nearly 70 percent of firms with virtualization use it to move servers from hardware to software in an effort to help cut down on server sprawl. Additionally, 90 percent of those surveyed said they are confident it can provide sufficient redundancies to ensure better business continuity and client service. Selecting from a list provided in the survey, respondents chose the top three benefits of virtualization as improved system scalability, lower unit cost for IT, and business flexibility.

The biggest driver, however, might be the cost savings of reducing existing technology infrastructure. Of those surveyed, 64 percent said a reason for employing virtualization was to reduce the size of their infrastructure, and 87 percent said cost savings of 10 to 30 percent was enough to justify the purchase.

Although the cost savings of using virtualization is widely understood, the cost of deploying the solutions remains the top barrier. Security — concern for the safety of virtual networks — is also a hurdle. Other barriers respondents identified include the effort it would take to implement the new solution, the time it would take to learn a new technology, and a lack of management buy-in.

The survey also shows a disparity in views based on management level at the businesses. Upper management is more confident in virtualization compared to middle management — 71 percent versus 41 percent. According to the report, middle management could be concerned that more efficiency resulting from virtualization could lead to fewer IT jobs or to new job descriptions.

In 2014, 75 percent of IT managers at SMBs says they will increase their spending for virtualization by up to 20 percent, and 25 percent plan to keep their budgets the same. Survey results show raising awareness could help advance adoption, with 65 percent saying they hesitate due to the lack of awareness about virtualization among the general public, and 67 percent are concerned that their managers are not familiar enough with the benefits.

Mike Hardy, EVP of the Managed Solution Center at SIS, offers some advice on how to help overcome objections. “In a traditional environment, the customer typically requires more resources than needed to effectively run their environment, which means they often bear the expense for under-utilized equipment. An MSP can use virtualization to effectively spread compute resources and management oversight across multiple workloads. This enables several customers to share costs instead of being solely responsible for all platform expenses,” Hardy explains. 

“Ultimately, virtualization is the key underlying technology that makes it possible for MSPs to be price competitive — often presenting the end user a lower price point while still delivering the same or better capacities and performance,” he adds.

Bottom line, an MSP offering virtual environment-based solutions must effectively leverage the solution’s ability to provide economies of scale.  In addition, a successful MSP will utilize virtualization at all levels — the network level, the compute level, the storage level, and the management level. Virtualizing across all levels means an MSP should be able to offer end users a lower cost of computing while also providing management and oversight solutions that would otherwise prove cost prohibitive.”

To read "Virtualization at Small and Medium Sized Firms on the Rise," click here.