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Techaisle Blog

Insightful research, flexible data, and deep analysis by a global SMB IT Market Research and Industry Analyst organization dedicated to tracking the Future of SMBs and Channels.

SMBs Mixing and Matching Vendors to Find Best Virtualization Solutions

Techaisle’s SMB technology adoption study shows that 72 percent of SMBs find Virtualization to be one of the most relevant technologies for their business, 2nd only to backup and disaster recovery. The actual adoption gets hindered because 56 percent of SMBs find Virtualization to also be one the most complex technologies to understand and adopt. (See infographic)

SMBs cite several reasons for adopting server virtualization; key among them are reducing operating cost, backup and disaster recovery and reducing cost of IT support. Improving existing server and hardware systems utilization is mentioned by 32 percent of SMBs.

In our survey of SMBs either currently using or planning to use Virtualization technologies we found that SMBs currently using Virtualization tended to have a mixed brand Virtualization environment, not relying on a single vendor for the solution, but mixing and matching as they saw appropriate based on their specific requirements.

techaisle-smb-diverse-virtualization-installations


For example, the above chart shows that within VMware Server Virtualization environments, 66 percent of SMBs also use VMware client Virtualization technology, with both Microsoft and Citrix making up the difference for the client side. Similarly, 78 percent of SMBs that use Microsoft server Virtualization also use Microsoft client Virtualization. Several other findings become apparent from the above chart:

  • VMware and Citrix have the most relatively mixed virtualization environment as compared to Microsoft

  • Citrix and Microsoft may have a slightly deeper partnership that enables SMBs using Citrix server Virtualization to be combined with Microsoft client Virtualization more easily and cost effectively


However, we cannot look at the above chart in isolation. SMBs have been using Virtualization technologies as the market developed.

In the words of one VP of IT for a mid-market business, “We use Citrix, VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V, and emulation from Ericom. There are ‘n’ numbers of products that are being used in the whole gamut of things”.

The Venn diagram below not only exposes the vulnerabilities faced by Virtualization vendors but also demonstrates that the market is big enough for solutions from all vendors to work in a heterogeneous IT environment.

techaisle-smb-virtualization-mixed-brand-adoption


For example, the above Venn diagram shows that only 12 percent of SMBs use only VMware Virtualization solution which is twice that of Citrix and almost one-fourth of Microsoft. And 9 percent of SMBs use Virtualization solutions from VMware, Citrix and Microsoft. Once we start to include solutions from Parallels, NComputing, Oracle and others the overlaps become very complicated to map.


Our research found that SMBs usually go through a round of server consolidation before moving to Virtualization.

“The very first step was actually to go for server consolidation. Once the servers were consolidated, then the desktop virtualization was performed. So, typically for VDI architecture or any other technology, the first thing is the server consolidation and after that the procurement of solution and licenses were done from VMware and Citrix for the VDI and after which the user terminals were changed”, this according to one IT Director, Mid-market business.

Not all Virtualization projects finish smoothly. SMBs have also had different experiences with each of the three major brands for server Virtualization projects as shown in the chart below:

techaisle-smb-virtualization-project-implementation-issues


The factors affecting each of the projects could be dependent upon:

  • SMBs’ readiness

  • Channel partners’ capabilities


However, the top 3 most common areas that need addressing are Compatibility Issues, Cost Overruns and Lack of Experience, which are perennial issues as all SMB users adopt new technologies.

“The major challenge was the cost, because the initial hardware investment was huge. Getting rid of the system and moving to the cloud and installing virtual servers required purchasing of physical storage and upgrading the system. Another challenge that we faced was the initial configuration which was addressed timely and efficiently by our partners”, Vice President, IT (500 employee size company).

But SMBs have gained tremendous advantages from using Virtualization. “It certainly has helped us to avail richer network services without increasing our capital investment and has increased our operational efficiency. Moreover computing and networking are much simplified now”.

For additional information on this and other topics from the blog, please feel free to contact us for a discussion and gratis consultation.

To purchase Techaisle’s SMB Virtualization Trends and Adoption study or engage Techaisle in a deep-dive custom research please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 
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Citrix Seeds the Cloud

While unveiling a very lucid product and service strategy today, Citrix announced several significant products and alliances that fill gaps in the SMB Cloud Computing marketplace. These include:

  • An expanded Me@Work mobile applications suite, with new and improved apps,
  • A strategic alliance with Microsoft to distribute Windows and Office365 as Cloud Services through XenDesktop,
  • A VDI-embedded and secure Ultrabook Client,
  • Next generation Gateway and next generation cross-cloud bridge,
  • A certified cloud platform developed in collaboration with Apache CloudStack,
  • Improvements to the NetScaler line.

And the most consequential announcement of the day - a wide and deep strategic alliance with Cisco that if well executed, will offer a true 1+1=3 result for both sides and have a major impact in the industry.


As the Cloud matures, Techaisle believes that integration is key and the market will coalesce around virtual versions of the client and server concepts – with communication at the core of the client suite and a collaborative, front office multi-user suite in the middle of the Server environment. With today’s announcements, Citrix moves us closer to this concept.

We will focus on three of the announcements with a point of view on how we consider them to be both strategic and timely, and finish up with huge potential impact of the slew of new alliance announcements.

Part of the achieving the vision is to ensure collaboration is possible across all hardware environments, that application objects can be executed regardless of proprietary operating systems and formats. By supporting all the formats shown here through their Receiver, Citrix already enables apps and data on three billion devices, which is expected to grow to ten billion in the next five years – Like many Korean manufacturers, Citrix is thinking in terms of screens, and knows that consumers are driving adoption of connected screens as part of the lifestyle – my teenage daughter has a MacBook, iPhone, and Satellite TV running all at the same time, each screen running multiple applications. When selecting a workplace, surveys show this generation would rather give up a more lucrative employment opportunity than give up their devices or right to use social media. As Kevin Kelly observed in his visionary work, New Rules of the New Economy, back in 1998:

“Because communication—which in the end is what the digital technology
and media are all about—is not just a sector of the economy. Communication is the economy.”
- Kevin Kelly, New Rules for the New Economy, 1998


We could not agree more, and the ME@Work announcement shows Citrix is taking the long view.

The ME@Work mobile app suite includes several productivity and collaborative applications, including the #1 web-conferencing solution, GoToMeeting. We found it interesting that Citrix is simultaneously introducing some competitive products in conjunction with the partnership; an email client – most important component of the collaborative desktop – as well as strong offers in file sharing, personal collaboration, and web conferencing. It is a bold move; for those of us who have been watching the industry for a while,  we remember when there was a triumvirate – Windows, Intel and Novell - and then there was NT with OS-embedded LAN capabilities - and then there were two. And then Netscape came out swinging with a better web browser that seriously pressured Microsoft - and then there was Windows-embedded Explorer - and then there was one.

But Microsoft gets a lot out of these announcements, especially if execution can follow strategy. Microsoft revenue is over 25 times that of Citrix, but they can use the excitement brought by a fast-growing, deeply technical, and cloud-focused next-generation partner. Especially in the SMB space - the 100-249 & 500-999 segments of the mid-market are a real sweet spot for this partnership.

By partnering with Microsoft to bring Windows, Office365 and the SkyDrive to market, Citrix benefits from the practically ubiquitous Windows installed base and opportunity for widespread adoption of Office365, (which we expect to have a banner year in 2013). And access to the most mature global software distribution ecosystem in the world. Microsoft gains an ally that provides substantial support and momentum against Google Apps, a catalyst to move away from packaged software,  additional credibility in collaboration, and adds 10,000 channel partners at the same time.

The Ultrabook client is a strategic offer because it supports the tide of BYOD and it is another route to market for XenDesktop VDI. It also aligns Citrix with Intel and the major OEMs who are looking for returns on large investments in the Ultrabook line.

While the Microsoft news is a big deal, the even larger news was a strategic alliance with Cisco that involves major commitments of joint R&D, integration of product lines and joint manufacturing in the future. Key Points:

Citrix and Cisco announced broad cooperation in three major areas: Mobile WorkStyles, Cloud Orchestration and Cloud Networking.

Mobile WorkStyles
The big idea here is any data on any device (the billions of screens mentioned above) to support the growing BYOD wave, and leveraging joint strengths to deliver a unified secure environment for applications, data, voice and collaboration. Cisco contributes Jabber and substantial collaboration expertise gained from the Webex acquisition, Virtual Experience Infrastructure (VXI) technology, and MediaNet Technology. For Mobile WorkStyles, Citrix brings a new and improved CloudGateway and Receiver, a new and improved ShareFile service and XenApp & XenDesktop. The alliance aims to bring a richer experience with seamless security and a leveraged support infrastructure than covers the entire stack 24x7 on a global basis.

From a business perspective, Citrix can ride on the back of the 800 pound gorilla straight into the Enterprise, leveraging the industrial-strength performance of Cisco’s premium product lines at a reduced price point. As with Microsoft, Citrix is aligning itself with an old-guard industry titan, in this case, one whose revenue is 16 times that of Citrix. And as with Microsoft, the deal looks like a win for both sides. Our opinion is that it could help revitalize Cisco, whose foray in to software based business created some great products in Webex, but the model was different enough to shake them up. We continue to write on the rise of the digital channel at the expense of a traditional HW VAR Channel. When Cisco acquired Webex they entered a software-based, inbound sales, price sensitive, online-marketed, sold and delivered, six-week sales cycle, user-configured business model that was almost the antithesis of what they were best at: premium quality enterprise hardware-based solutions that are differentiated by making the value of the whole network exceed the sum of its’ parts - sold by an enterprise sales force and delivered by top shelf VARs and SIs. Especially within SMBs, the right combination of price and SLA to solve business, not technical problems, are overriding criteria when buying, and traditional hands-on VARs might not even be called - cut out by online marketing and inbound sales teams. In hardware, it is more about scale economies, quality engineering and brand management - software is all about market share and developing accelerating returns and an ecosystem of fellow travelers.

Cloud Orchestration
The second key area of cooperation is in what is being called Cloud Orchestration, where the objective is to manage the traditional data center functions of computing, network, storage, security, and management, delivered across physical, virtual and cloud environments using Unified Computing, Unified Management and Unified Fabric. This is clearly Cisco’s home territory and they bring expertise and technology including Unified Computing System (UCS), Open Network Environment (ONE) and the Nexus Series of switch technologies to bear on these challenges. Citrix contributes the newest CloudPlatform, a new open source CloudStack and the XenServer to this effort. Using Cloud Orchestration, the alliance aims to deploy Public, Private and Hybrid Cloud environments with unified management that reduces complexity and improves agility, something SMB customers will be happy to see. Embracing Open Source is also a good move for Citrix to increase the footprint.

Cloud Networking
The third leg of the alliance is centered on the Citrix NetScaler Cloud Networking Platform. Here the objective is to adopt NetScaler as the go-to technology and jointly develop the next generation through the alliance. This will be accomplished by offering NetScaler as a strategic component within the Cisco Cloud Network Services Architecture, with seamless integration at the product level in areas including Security and WAN optimization. The order of implementation is that Cisco will adopt, sell and market the NetScaler, it will be manufactured according to a certified Cisco Design specification followed by a joint road-map for product interoperability, development and go-to-market strategy over the long term.

Through these announcements, Citrix has taken several steps to advance Cloud-based services and fill gaps in the market; they have introduced a new channel for Windows and Office365, brought to market their own collaborative suite, and a VDI-embedded client to further the VDI and BYO trends in the SMB space. Other technology announcements were also significant but for reasons of brevity we have not covered them in detail. One thing is for sure - no one can accuse Citrix of being timid. Of course, when snuggling up with the big guys the way they are, Citrix themselves said it best in the announcement: "POs are better than PR". It all falls on execution at this point.

 


 

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Citrix: Delivering Work-Life Harmony through Enabling Technology

Delivering Work-Life Harmony through Enabling Technology

Citrix calls it Life Slicing, a form of work-life harmony. And it is on a relentless pursuit of creating continuities between devices, location, apps, data, events and culture irrespective of place, time and environment. Mark Templeton, CEO says that he and his team are busy designing solutions that create customer experiences that will differentiate Citrix from its competitors and in the process reduce cost and increase simplicity for end-users.

It is not an easy objective to achieve. However it is the right objective. Citrix is either a leader in some categories or second in others and a relatively new entrant in yet other areas. It is confident that a focus on delighting the customer with tools that conform to the way end-users work in a multi-modal collaborative world, pining for utmost simplicity will make Citrix the winner.

To achieve its vision, Citrix has set its eyes on six key areas.

    • Social Collaboration: with carefully selected and integrated product line consisting of – GoToMeeting, GoToTraining, GoToAssist, GoToWebinar, ShareFile and Podio. While GoToMeeting was Citrix’s first foray into collaboration (when collaboration was not yet a must have), recent acquisition Podio extends the collaboration to teams.

 

    • Data Sharing: ShareFile is Citrix’s answer to enterprise-grade Dropbox that Citrix hopes will win on security, ease of use and customer service. ShareFile enables employees to send, share, sync files with business features such as follow-me data, access from any device, encrypted in transit and at rest, remote wipe and account locking.

 

    • Enterprise Mobility: a strategy built on Citrix Receiver, a client software app that allows access to data, apps from any device for the unbridled, fast growing BYOD market. Citrix Receiver uses XenApp and XenDesktop to deliver self-service apps and data to over 3 billion devices. Add to it CloudGateway for provisioning that is identity-based, scenario-based and secure serving of data on apps whether the device is windows, mobile, web or HTML5.

 

    • Windows-as-a-Service: an area which is the bread and butter of Citrix, a leader in the space with maximum number of products – XenDesktop, XenApp, XenClient, VDI-in-a-Box. Citrix is furiously working on delivering Windows apps and desktops as a true cloud service. RingCube and Kaviza acquisitions helped Citrix accelerate its presence in the VDI marketplace and eliminated the trade-offs with VDI to allow both shared and fixed desktops to be managed. In addition its HDX technology aims to deliver high-definition virtualization experience and its FlexCast delivery technology makes possible individual user configuration.

 

    • Cloud Networking: echoing the thoughts of many others that the future network will be fast and flat Citrix is betting on NetScaler, ByteMobile and CloudBridge solutions to deliver a network fabric that meets or exceeds the demands of a mobile world with ever-growing bandwidth requirements from devices, data and applications that are in constant motion.

 

    • Cloud Platforms:  staking on its belief that Open platforms will win, Citrix has CloudStack addressing the needs of both traditional and cloud workloads. Specifically, Citrix has also rolled out a Cloud Portal specifically designed for service providers that is a single self-service interface for cloud deployments.



Routes-to-Market for SMBs

The channel comprising of VARs, Systems Integrators (SIs), dealers, resellers and retailers form the essential cogs of an IT vendor’s eco-system that puts products and solutions in the hands of the customers. This is particularly true in the small and medium business market (SMB) where the vast majority of opportunity can only be addressed through the channel. Selling direct is not economical. So it makes complete sense that Citrix is trying to find ways to engage and involve the channel in their cloud efforts. With over 10,000 channel partners globally Citrix is concentrating on three different yet complementary efforts: 1/ Strengthen the VAR and SP channels; 2/ Build strategic alliances; 3/ Reach the SMB channels. The third point is most noticeable as Citrix has launched two new channel programs:

    1. SMB Specialist

 

    1. Cloud Advisor



SMBs have made the leap to cloud-based infrastructure and will rapidly move to multiple services that leverage their investments. The new solution stack is virtual and relatively standalone at this point; the next stage will require integration of more complex applications. As new Cloud Services are rolled out it will not be possible for most SMBs to maintain the internal expertise to make the most appropriate choices. Helping customers emerge without being overwhelmed and providing relevant knowledge of how to effectively apply the new technology will strengthen the SMB customer-channel-vendor relationship. And Citrix is building that channel handbook to enable its partners to be those trusted advisors.

In addition it has developed and released a Partner 360 Dashboard with real-time analytics. Its channel measurement and incentive metrics are based both on fulfillment and influence. Borrowing a leaf from the SMB transformation phenomenon, Citrix is enabling its partners to shift their focus from just operating to implementing and therefore helping them define their respective roles in the cloud.

Techaisle Take

SMBs are going through a transformation in terms of their work style, behavior and IT usage. Citrix is addressing the transformation. SMBs traditionally started off their journey into IT unknowingly using single building block concepts. The process for an SMB growth and its relative steps to absorb IT were steady and predictable. Some SMBs stacked their blocks faster than the others but the steps to get to the top block were always the same.

Enter flat IT. Cloud, mobility, virtualization, managed services have effectively toppled the blocks down in one fell swoop and have laid everything flat on the table. SMBs have moved from enablement to empowerment. Now it is not a race to the top, but how can an SMB reach its full potential in the shortest period of time. The process of an SMB’s growth and steps to absorb IT are no longer steady and predictable.

The SMBs are looking for value shift, moving from enablement to empowerment. They have moved from individual productivity to group productivity. Work from anywhere, anytime is more prevalent today than ever before. SMBs are no longer clustered in one location. It took 10 years for percentage of SMBs allowing telecommuting to double itself but only 3 years to again double to reach 77% in the US. The average number of locations has gone up from 1.05 to 1.85 in 5 years. Another important number to note – 15% of SMB employees always work from home, that is, 11 million SMB employees.  SMB executives have also accepted work at home culture. And they see it as a benefit for the company as well as employees. 46% agree that it benefits companies, 37% say that tasks can be accomplished from anywhere. And 28% say that the technology used by employees is more advanced than that offered by workplace. It is known as Consumerization of IT but it has implications on how IT is absorbed and how IT vendors offer support and training. SMBs use multiple devices & applications to collaborate when traveling or telecommuting, many of which did not exist 5 years ago. Mobility is at the SMB doorstep.

To address the SMB transformation Citrix has it all: Collaboration, Data sharing, Mobility, Virtualization and even flavors of managed services. In the process, it is introducing simplicity and mobility along with driving down the cost. But what about the routes-to-SMB-customer? This is where Citrix has some work to do. Recognizing the shortcoming, Citrix has launched a somewhat thought out campaign to serve the needs of the channel partners that cater to the SMB community. What it already has in its favor is the tail wind. But any fellow traveler can easily testify that the tail wind can turn into a head wind. Citrix has its work cut out for itself, making sure that the channel partner tail wind is maintained.

Anurag Agrawal
Techaisle

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VMware: Serious SMB Focus, Re-ignited SMB Strategy

A new and restructured VMware took the stage at VMworld 2012 amid major changes driven by commoditization of “must-have” virtualization technology within enterprises and a cultural change where mobility is driving many technology decisions. Although the most important announcements included the vCloud Suite, the software-defined datacenter and the death of vRAM pricing, there were several other pronouncements that were especially relevant to SMBs, most significantly vSphere 5.1.

VMware has always offered solutions that were appropriate for the SMB market, but have not been considered a priority as the enterprise business segment, without real competition, kept VMware busy, growing and profitable. However, over the past two years SMBs have begun to grow in importance for VMware driven by several factors:

  • The Enterprise segment has become increasingly virtualized (saturated) and starting to look more limited in growth prospects; the remaining high growth areas relegated  to emerging market countries and increasing penetration of workload yet to be virtualized within the mature economies

  • SMBs have overcome their initial hesitation with cloud-based services and become increasingly comfortable with using emerging Cloud technologies and Cloud Computing in general

  • Mobility and use of multiple devices anytime and from anywhere is becoming increasingly important within the SMB segment

  • Consultants and channel partners serving the SMB segment have evangelized the advantages of virtualization that enable SMBs to reduce IT management costs, provide better security and disaster recovery and improve application accessibility

  • After a slow start, Microsoft made a strong move into the virtualization space at low price points, expanding the awareness of virtualization within their SMB base

  • Microsoft’s huge base of channel partners found it easy to market Microsoft’s virtualization solutions to their customers


As a result of the above factors, SMB market segment began to appear like a growing and untapped opportunity deserving serious consideration and potentially aggressive investment.

SMB Virtualization Opportunity

Our research shows that this consideration has plenty of merit: a recent Techaisle survey of 3,300 SMBs in US, UK, Germany clearly shows that virtualization is now among the top 3 relevant technologies for small and mid-market businesses (SMBs) and rapid growth is expected to continue. Typically, SMBs begin their virtualization journey with either desktop or server virtualization and based on that success, move to other virtualization technologies. This relatively newfound interest among SMBs bodes extremely well for VMware and its channel partners.


 There is no doubt that SMB Server Virtualization is a huge opportunity. Techaisle survey of 3,300 SMBs in US, UK, Germany clearly shows that opportunity is real. If VMware does not move aggressively, others will move in rapidly.



Important VMware SMB Announcements

vSphere 5.1 (there are two versions) with vSphere Essentials Kits for SMBs for up to 250 employees on a single site or vSphere 5.1 with vSphere Acceleration Kits for SMBs with 250+ employees across two or more sites were by far the most significant product announcements for small and mid-market businesses as they are targeted directly at the mid-market space in terms of functionality, price, ease of installation and deployment.

Pricing starts at US$495 for vSphere Essentials and goes up to US$4,495 for vSphere Essential Plus that includes  vMotion (for live migration of virtual machines, no shared storage), endpoint security, high availability and fault tolerance, data protection and replication features , vSphere Storage Appliance. With this new version, VMware has simplified the installation of storage appliance and a one-to-one relationship between vCenter and vSphere Storage Appliance is no longer a requirement.

vSphere Acceleration Kits includes everything that is available in vSphere Essentials plus IT operations management, application inventory and patching, powerful and efficient resource management, and policy-based automation. The pricing starts at US$6,995 per 6-CPU license.  And a new solution, vSphere Standard with Operations Management, includes all the enhanced features of vSphere Standard plus vCenter Operations Manager and vCenter Protect for operations management, application inventory and patching in one bundle for $10,000 per 6 CPU license.

For those SMBs that are tip-toeing into the virtualization arena, there is VMware Go Pro (first announced in January 2011) which is a web-based service to deploy, manage and maintain virtualized environments, and lowering barriers to entry. It offers the ability to convert physical servers to virtual servers through a browser. In fact cloud-based virtual machine capability is a new feature. Incidentally, 30 free endpoint licenses of VMware Go Pro is included in every new purchase for vSphere Essentials or Essentials Plus Kit purchases until December 15, 2012.

VMware View is VMware’s VDI solution and its upcoming Horizon Suite beta is the answer for centralized application and data management addressing the needs of SMBs that are using VDI as a fast-path to mobility.

Techaisle Takeaway

Right Direction by VMware in Addressing the Needs of SMBs

With these virtualization solutions VMware is potentially addressing important needs of SMBs considering virtualization including simplified management, backup and recovery, and security.  The solutions allow SMBs to take advantage of existing investments by relying on the same management interfaces used to secure physical environments. These are the types of characteristics that SMBs have embraced wholeheartedly in other areas of Cloud-based Services, which led to rapid adoption and overthrow of the expensive and overly-complex Client-Server approach to IT.

Included in the offering is a backup and recovery solution for complete data protection for virtual machines and virtual machine level replication. In addition the storage appliance (now included in vSphere Essentials Plus and all vSphere Acceleration Kits) allows SMBs to easily and cost-effectively deploy shared storage even in remote and branch offices. VMware vShield Endpoint helps in strengthening security for virtual machines while delegating antivirus and anti-malware agent processing to a dedicated secure virtual appliance.

There were other solutions that were announced by VMware, primarily targeted at the enterprise segment, but we believe, with some modifications are equally relevant for the SMBs. These are software-defined datacenters and Cloud Operations Services.

Enterprise Targeted Solutions Equally Relevant for SMBs

Software defined datacenters: While relatively unknown to SMBs at this stage, this future mainstay will become highly relevant within the next 3 – 5 years. It is therefore essential for VMware to keep in mind the specific design points and requirements of SMBs in addition to the larger accounts as it develops its product and strategy for software-defined-datacenters. SMBs continue to be concerned about the increasing complexity of IT and 77% have expressed the concern in a recent survey. While provisioning VMs (virtual machines) may only take a few minutes, when storage and networking components are added, the proposition begins to become more complex, requiring more time and resources.  Based on how SMBs are adopting cloud-based services and looking at some of the new, innovative services platform technologies that are gaining quick acceptance in the market, there seems to be some space in the market for a plug-and-play “base datacenter package” that would be appropriate for SMBs in this area.  In a nutshell, this base package should allow rapid provisioning of the key components of the environment (compute, storage, and network) as a virtual datacenter. As SMBs expand operations and grow regionally, the ability to quickly re-configure new and existing locations by shrinking, extending or moving virtual machines along with networking to meet elastic demand requirements would be a very valuable proposition.

Tools for the SMB Trusted Advisor

VMware Cloud Operations Services:  currently positioned as a trusted advisor for CIOs of enterprises on a cloud journey.  It also seems the market is in real need of a simplified and cost-effective version of the services that will be equally relevant for the SMB segment. Techaisle surveys have found that in the rush to implement Cloud Services, users especially among Small Businesses, are beginning to rely much more on independent IT Consultants as their new source of advice. Also, based on the ability of vendors to market, sell and deliver these services completely through a digital channel, SMBs are turning directly to vendors for their advice. As discussed in a previous post, the critical issue, now more than ever, is to be the trusted advisor early in the SMB’s lifecycle and establish the relationship. VMware will also have to empower its channel partners with new training modules, competencies and financial incentive to offer advisory services, and come in and get these new offers up and running fast and right on the first try - the sure fire way to start a long term relationship with the SMB customer.

vRAM Pricing Still Ruling for Service Providers

Finally, it is not out of place to say that although vRAM pricing is dead, it is still the licensing metric for the VSPP (channel program). vRAM pricing for service providers is a different model - whereas vRAM for perpetual was a limitation on the entitlement, in VSPP it is the metric. Although the model allows service providers to offer their customers the benefits of opex-based “pay-as-you-go” service it may leave some smaller-sized service providers wanting more.  These service providers should work closely with VMware to determine possibles solution for their SMB customer needs. For example, in cases where,

  1. SMB customers on a perpetual license wanting to move from an on-premise to a hosted solution specially if they would be operating below the RAM caps

  2. SMB customers electing to use a mixed virtualization environment in a hosted model


As SMBs continue to adopt cloud services and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) becomes mainstream for SMBs, VMware needs to develop a strategy that encourages the hosting providers to address the SMB segment by having same consistent pricing, that is, per processor for both on-premise and hosted models. Until that happens, VMware is potentially opening the doors wider to competing products.

Concluding Remarks

It is quite apparent that VMware is committed to serving the needs of the SMB segment clearly demonstrated by its well thought out product enhancements, packaging and roadmap.  Centralized management and control, ability to “plug in” branch offices, keeping costs manageable and allowing existing IT staff to focus on measurable value are huge value propositions to SMBs. It is also a new service that SMB focused service providers can offer by leveraging these centralized management tools and better support their customers.  It is an excellent opportunity for the channel, which is being rapidly disintermediated by the rise of vendor direct online marketing, new consulting competitors and redeployed internal IT resources, which we have covered in depth in another post. A recent Techaisle study of over 1600 Channel Partners shows many of these partners are struggling for lack of serious value-added opportunities and could benefit from VMware’s new SMB offers.

Anurag Agrawal
Techaisle


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