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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.

Dell VDI chief strategist on SMB market penetration game plan

Candid conversation with Dell Cloud-Client Computing chief strategist

Jeff McNaught, Executive Director & Chief Strategy Officer, Dell Cloud Client-Computing and co-inventor of Wyse thin client had a candid conversation with Techaisle on his new product initiatives, focus on security, building solutions for small and medium businesses and renewed attention to channel partners. Jeff is deeply involved in software solutions which includes partner software - Citrix, Microsoft and VMware and is responsible for the cloud-client business which includes devices that Dell build’s exclusively for Citrix or VMware as well as new products and software security offerings. One of his major new initiatives includes simplifying and securing virtual workspaces better than anyone else.

Dell VDI converging on security, cost, complexity and channels

Based on extensive primary research with SMBs and the channel partners, Techaisle forecasts the US SMB VDI market to be US$13 billion in 2020 as VDI penetration increases to 34 percent from the current 26 percent and an increase in number of seats from users who have already deployed VDI. Most of the midmarket firms that have invested in VDI are still experimenting with the technology, and most small businesses are still several years away from even this level of preliminary adoption.

The allure of VDI is clear – but the technology itself and the path to realizing its benefits is still mysterious to many small and midmarket businesses. Techaisle research shows that there is a need for VDI vendors to embark on a messaging exercise that includes - real-world examples of successful deployment of VDI, ease of VDI implementation with the least pain for SMBs & simplification of understanding VDI technology by removing fear and complexity.

Over the last two years Dell has been trying to build a momentum to remove the mystery and reduce deployment complexity. Along the way it has had more successes than missteps and it seems that Dell has reached a stage where it reasonably understands the needs of the end-customers and how to work with channel partners to win business and deploy solutions. Dell has architected multiple VDI solution delivery models for SMBs of all sizes and levels of technology adoption.

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What is driving SMB converged infrastructure adoption

For all the talk of a world predicated on software-defined resources, there is still need for capable, reliable, scalable physical infrastructure to support these software layers and the features and applications that sit atop them. The rise in virtualization has been driving an accompanying demand for converged infrastructure: products that combine processing, storage and networking into a robust and scalable unit that can support and respond to the options inherent in virtualization.

While the migration from separate server, storage and networking products to converged infrastructure is still in its early stages, the Techaisle SMB & midmarket converged infrastructure survey and corresponding Techaisle SMB & midmarket virtualization adoption trends survey shows that it is beginning to gain traction, especially within more sophisticated accounts. Data shows that 10% of small businesses and 27% of midmarket businesses (weighted data) are planning to adopt converged infrastructure. Current midmarket adoption rates for converged infrastructure are below findings for VDI but differences readily become apparent when analyzing the data from the lens of Techaisle’s segmentation by IT sophistication. Converged infrastructure adoption rises steadily with increased buyer sophistication in both the small and midmarket segments. As the market matures, we expect to see accelerated adoption of converged infrastructure across the SMB market.

What is driving converged infrastructure adoption?

While there are technical advantages that make converged infrastructure products more effective virtualization hosts than traditional servers, Techaisle’s research shows that SMB buyers adopt converged infrastructure for one or more of five primary reasons:

  1. to benefit from converged infrastructure’s integrated design and efficiency,
  2. to tap into its ability to enable centralization/management of resources,
  3. to capitalize on performance/time-to-benefit advantages,
  4. to improve IT agility and its ability to meet business needs, and
  5. in response to core requirements for cost savings and improved security.

Drilling down into the data Techaisle finds that core requirements inform many converged infrastructure strategies, and the benefits and efficiency of integrated solutions are also frequently cited as a driver of converged infrastructure adoption.

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What is driving global SMB VDI and DaaS adoption?

Results from the Techaisle SMB 2015 Virtualization surveys in the US, EMEA, Asia/Pacific and Latin America indicates that client virtualization has not been as widely adopted by SMBs as server virtualization. VDI is quite a lot less common than server virtualization, and DaaS adoption is still in its early stages. Techaisle believes that most midmarket firms that have invested in VDI and especially DaaS are still experimenting with the technology, and that most small businesses are still several years away from even this level of preliminary adoption.

Techaisle is able to draw on its multiple large-scale global SMB surveys to illustrate changes in SMB VDI/DaaS adoption drivers, and is able to add context from its SMB channel research to illustrate similarities and differences in perspective between SMB buyers and their primary IT advisor/supplier community.

Comparing 2015 and 2013 reasons for using VDI/DaaS
The key theme in the 2015 responses is “control”: SMBs are looking for more effective backup and disaster recovery, for more security, for means of assuring regulatory compliance, and for a platform that supports scalability and flexibility. With the exception of “reduce operating cost,” 2015 respondents are not particularly focused on cost issues, or on support for mobile apps.

The 2013 findings reflected a different set of SMB user needs. Two years ago, apps were paramount, with providing “access to applications from anywhere on any device”, “improving the availability of applications” and “deliver services on demand” the first, second and fourth highest-ranked responses. In 2015 these factors rank seventh, ninth and tenth on the list.

It seems clear that while an earlier generation of SMB VDI/DaaS adopters was looking for a means of delivering apps to users, today’s SMBs are looking to VDI/DaaS as a means of increasing control over mobile assets. This may be in part a reaction to generally-greater access to capable mobile apps, but it may – and in Techaisle’s opinion, does – reflect much greater awareness and concern over corporate data security concerns arising from widespread use of mobility.

SMB and Channel Disconnects
If we compare 2015 SMB buy-side and SMB channel responses, we see that the channel has not moved from “app” to “control” as fully as the SMB user community. SMB buyers prize control options – backup and DR, security, and compliance – and also acknowledge the importance of OPEX reductions and scalability. The channel believes that SMB clients primarily value scalability and flexibility, and also understand the need for control over regulatory and backup/DR, but are still focused on app delivery issues – “deliver services on demand” and “anywhere/any device app access” – that have fallen in the buy-side priority queue.

Targeting by IT Sophistication Segmentation
Techaisle’s IT sophistication-based segmentation finds that there are pockets within the global SMB market that are progressing faster than their employee size group peers. Advanced IT small businesses are five times as likely to be using VDI today as Pre-IT organizations. While DaaS is less well established, roughly a third of the small business Advanced IT group is using or planning to begin use of DaaS as well.

Within midmarket businesses VDI penetration does not vary much by sophistication segment, indicating that it has reached a relatively common level of use. DaaS, on the other hand, is still wending its way through midmarket users: 10% of Basic IT firms, 20% of Advanced IT firms and 31% of Enterprise IT firms have at least initial trials underway. DaaS messaging should therefore be targeted primarily at the more sophisticated SMB user communities.

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SMB Virtualization and Converged Infrastructure penetration increasing

Techaisle’s SMB Virtualization Adoption Trends and SMB Converged Infrastructure Adoption Trends studies show that virtualization and converged infrastructure are poised for strong growth in 2015 within the US SMB market because they both address specific high-priority IT and SMB business issues. SMBs have a clear need to reduce costs and improve efficiency of back-end infrastructure and to establish better control over mobile resources. Virtualization helps accomplish both of these goals and converged infrastructure provides a platform that sophisticated SMB users are already finding compelling.

Server virtualization: the thin edge of the wedge?
Sever virtualization is not the only virtualization option available to SMBs, client virtualization technologies VDI and DaaS are also increasingly prominent in SMB IT strategies. However, VDI and DaaS should not be seen simply as “next steps in virtualization.” Like server virtualization, VDI and DaaS address key SMB corporate issues – but they are different issues - support for mobility solutions and improving productivity rather than cost control.

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