• FEATURED INFOGRAPHIC

    FEATURED INFOGRAPHIC

    2022 Top 10 SMB Business Issues, IT Priorities, IT Challenges
    GET IT NOW
  • 2022 SMB & MIDMARKET PREDICTIONS

    2022 SMB & MIDMARKET PREDICTIONS

    Top SMB & Midmarket Predictions for 2022
    READ NOW
  • 2022 CHANNEL PREDICTIONS

    2022 CHANNEL PREDICTIONS

    Top SMB & Midmarket Predictions for 2022
    READ NOW
  • SIMPLIFY. EXPAND. GROW.

    SIMPLIFY. EXPAND. GROW.

    #SMB #MIDMARKET #UPPER MID-MARKET #CHANNEL
    LEARN MORE
  • NEXT CHANNEL - THE FUTURE OF PARTNER ECOSYSTEM

    NEXT CHANNEL - THE FUTURE OF PARTNER ECOSYSTEM

    Networked, Engaged, Extended, Hybrid
    DOWNLOAD NOW
  • BUYERS JOURNEY

    BUYERS JOURNEY

    Influence map & care-abouts
    LEARN MORE
  • CLOUD RESEARCH

    CLOUD RESEARCH

    SMB & Midmarket Cloud Adoption
    LATEST RESEARCH
  • DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

    DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

    Delivering Connected Business
    LEARN MORE
  • SECURITY RESEARCH

    SECURITY RESEARCH

    SMB & Midmarket Security Adoption Trends
    LATEST RESEARCH
  • MANAGED SERVICES RESEARCH

    MANAGED SERVICES RESEARCH

    US SMB & Midmarket Managed Services Adoption
    LEARN MORE
  • CHANNEL PARTNERS

    CHANNEL PARTNERS

    Transformation or Consolidation
    LATEST RESEARCH
  • ANALYTICS & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

    ANALYTICS & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

    SMB & Midmarket Analytics & Artificial Intelligence Adoption
    LEARN MORE
  • WHITE PAPER

    WHITE PAPER

    SMB Path to Digitalization - Prologue and Epilogue
    DOWNLOAD
  • HYBRID WORK IS HERE TO STAY?

    HYBRID WORK IS HERE TO STAY?

    NOT SO FAST SAYS THE DATA
    ANALYSIS
  • SAAS RESEARCH

    SAAS RESEARCH

    US SMB & Midmarket SaaS Adoption
    LEARN MORE
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
  • 11
  • 12
  • 13
  • 14
  • 15

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-EMC deal – sense and sensibility or solid reasoning

On October 12 Dell took an enormous step along its new chosen path of reorienting away from a provider of low-cost PC and server hardware to a role as a more sophisticated supplier to businesses that view technology as a strategic asset rather than as a tactical necessity. Dell announced a “definitive agreement” to acquire EMC (including EMC’s ownership positions in VMware, RSA Security, Pivotal Software, Virtustream and other industry firms and joint ventures) for $67 billion – the largest-ever acquisition in the information technology industry. The deal was announced to analysts and media in a conference call that featured Dell Founder and CEO Michael Dell, EMC President/CEO/Chairman Joe Tucci and Silver Lake Partners Managing Partner and Managing Director Egon Durban, and included VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger, Dell CFO Thomas Sweet, and David Goulden, who acts as CEO for EMC’s Information Infrastructure business.

Two second Take

The acquisition greatly enhances Dell’s position in higher-margin, higher growth markets: storage is expanding faster than servers or PCs, and EMC is focused on the higher-margin software used for device management as opposed to the creation of physical devices themselves.

Revenue Synergies – the $67 billion question

While the call eschewed any commentary on staff redundancies between the two organizations, it focused its messaging on “revenue synergies that are three times larger than cost synergies,” a justification for the deal that comes primarily from new growth opportunities rather than from squeezing out costs through headcount reductions.

It can be assumed that most of this growth potential comes from expanded market rather than product positioning. In his remarks, Michael Dell noted that Dell/EMC (including VMware) have already established “leadership positions in storage, servers, virtualization and PCs,” and have strength in IT’s “most important growth vectors,” including software-defined data centers, hybrid cloud, converged infrastructure, mobility and security – and are “positioned as a leader in an amazing 22 Gartner Magic Quadrants.”

If Dell and EMC are already leaders in all of these large and/or expanding areas, then the question is where will further growth come from? It appears that the combined entity is banking on the benefits associated with increased customer account presence. In particular, Michael Dell noted that “as the data market moves to a compute-centric, converged model, Dell’s server franchise is a natural fit with EMC’s strength.” The theory appears to be that by combining EMC’s prowess at selling to enterprise accounts and Dell’s broader compute portfolio the company can increase share of wallet within major accounts; there is also some opportunity for using EMC to drive increased storage presence within Dell’s “growing commercial infrastructure franchise” in the SMB base, but this is likely to be a secondary consideration.

Security, Converged Infrastructure, Mobility, Big Data

Dell has been investing heavily in building a comprehensive security portfolio, assembling advanced threat identification services firm SecureWorks (acquired by Dell in 2011), firewall/unified threat management from vendor SonicWALL (acquired in 2012), backup software specialist AppAssure (2012) and identity monitoring and management software vendor Quest (also acquired in 2012), plus related capabilities sourced from thin client vendor Wyse (purchased by Dell in 2012) and from work done by Dell’s own engineering team. With the latest acquisition Dell adds encryption pioneer RSA Security (which became a division of EMC after being acquired in 2006) and enterprise mobility management supplier AirWatch (acquired by VMware in 2014), thus diversifying the portfolio even more. Dell has been positioning end-to-end security as a differentiating feature of its infrastructure portfolio for some time and with the acquisition Dell’s security story becomes even stronger, and even more distinct from the approaches of competitors like Lenovo, HP and Oracle.

Although it is tempting to look at a Dell/EMC/VMware combination as a means of consolidating a converged infrastructure offering capable of competing with the Cisco-led Vblock (Cisco, EMC, VMware) and FlexPod (Cisco, NetApp, VMware) offerings, it appears that Dell’s vision is broader and more strategic.

The acquisition also gives Dell a foothold into the big data deployment market opportunity where the enterprise spending is still hardware driven rather than software and analytics uptake.

And with AirWatch in the mix, Dell finally gets a mobility story in place beyond just the mobile devices.

Move to cloud

Michael Dell believes that “the combined company is very well positioned to address the move to the cloud,” both by providing infrastructure to public cloud providers and private cloud operators and through VMware’s ability to enable hybrid cloud. But in his remarks, he went further, observing that “I think what you’re seeing with the Software Defined Data Center is an ability to take the benefits of the public cloud and bring them into an on-premise data center.” He considers the complexities associated with connecting compute, network and storage as a major demand driver for public cloud, and virtualization and converged infrastructure as a means of delivering greater simplicity in on-premise environments, allowing firms to focus on optimizing for “the application user, quality of service and security.”

But Michael Dell is not satisfied by simply focusing on leveling the terrain between cloud and on-premise infrastructure, his vision is to supply infrastructure across different environments (public clouds, SaaS, hyperclouds, private clouds), providing common, connected and secure platforms to customers of all sizes, wherever their IT workloads reside.

Financial challenges

A lot has been said and written about financial challenges but due to the enormity of the deal size it is worth another read, from our point-of-view. The cost of debt may have an impact on the overall cost of operating the newly-expanded Dell entity. Dell was thought to have about $12 billion in debt prior to this deal; clearly, this figure will increase substantially after the acquisition. Michael Dell did state that observers could expect “a significant deleveraging” resulting from cost savings, increased revenue and cash flow management improvements that come with being a private company, but $67 billion represents a very high hurdle for these activities. Obtaining the funds themselves is not an issue but it seems likely that the costs associated with debt service may affect product prices and margins, and it is difficult to boost either in many of Dell’s core hardware markets. It might well be that asset sales become important to enhancing corporate profitability by reducing the cost base of the company.

Should debt reduction become a priority, the newly-expanded Dell would have a few options, starting with VMware. Although there was no mention of selling VMware as part of this deal – indeed, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger was described as having a “very bright future” in the new organization – EMC’s 80 percent stake in VMware is worth more than $26 billion at current valuations. It will be very tempting to convert this equity into reduced debt to help the competitiveness of future hardware products, though this would be at the cost of an ownership position that (as per the terms of the Dell deal) accounts for 40 percent of EMC’s overall value. There are other avenues Dell could pursue – for example, it could combine its in-house security assets with RSA, and perhaps AirWatch, to create a stand-alone security business that could be monetized via issuance of public market shares – but a VMware sale is clearly the most direct means of raising capital to reduce debt.

Go-to-market challenges

An often-overlooked ingredient in a merger is the extent to which go-to-market staff and strategies can be melded in a single organization. This will likely be a significant issue for the expanded company. Dell and EMC customer-facing staffs have very different skills and compensation levels and may not be neatly amalgamated into a single sales force. The channel strategies of the two firms are different as well. Because EMC has focused primarily on large deals within large accounts and Dell has been more SMB (and consumer) focused, it may be that the sales staff and channel strategies can be aligned by sector but that will not erase the GTM discrepancies.

EMC sales staff work large, high margin deals, and are among the best compensated reps in the industry; Dell certainly cannot afford to reduce EMC-classic rep compensation (which would trigger a mass exodus to competitive startups) or to pay EMC rates to Dell-classic sales staff (which would consume more than 100 percent of current margins). From a channel and alliance perspective, EMC is a strategic partner to its enterprise-level services and software partners; Dell is primarily a tactical resource for SMB-focused VARs and integrators. These approaches target different partners with different programs and are delivered in different ways. Again, it is possible to align strategies by market sector, but many partners are likely to try to “shop” across programs to “Frankenstein” together blends of services and compensation structures that optimize the supplier benefits that they derive from the new Dell, and some – notably, Cisco, which is an EMC ally via Vblock – will find a Dell partnership untenable.

Final Take

While there are reasons to admire Dell’s strategy, it is very rare to find successful examples of a merger yielding a combined market presence that eclipses the individual positions of the firms involved. However, these are still early days, and the hard decisions will not be made until mid-2016, but there are still many operational issues to be ironed out between now and then. Even though Dell is not a public company, it will need to explain its expectations of “revenue synergies” to customers, analysts and the press, and Silver Lake will likely need to do the same for its current and potential investors.

There are reasons to both admire and to question the Dell/EMC deal. The answer to the $67 billion question will be found in the opportunities for “revenue synergies” that extend well beyond today’s converged infrastructure SKUs, and into the cloud and the core operating models of customers ranging from EMC’s traditional public sector and large enterprise accounts to Dell’s SMB buyers. If Dell can extend its reach across the full spectrum of IT/business infrastructure, it may build a position as the behemoth HP believed it would become, before it was bifurcated into two distinct business units. If it does not, it may more closely resemble Oracle, trying to assemble a coherent vision from a series of mismatched pieces.

The real winner though is Silver Lake. It has positioned itself as a central force within the technology industry, an unusual position for a private equity firm, and may signal that excellence in financing is joining excellence in inventing technology and excellence in technology marketing as paths to the industry’s pinnacle.

  0 Comments

SMB Server virtualization penetration is increasing but challenges remain

Techaisle’s SMB Server Virtualization adoption market trends study shows that US SMB server virtualization penetration has reached 54 percent (un-weighted), up from 41 percent two years ago. Within midmarket businesses the penetration has reached 88 percent and another 7 percent are planning in the next one year.

Figure below uses data from multiple surveys to illustrate trends in virtualization penetration within SMB accounts that have adopted server virtualization. In 2013 the proportions of servers virtualized was very similar across all employee size categories, ranging from 61%-62% in microbusinesses (which sometimes only have one server, making virtualization an all-or-nothing proposition) to just over 50% in midmarket enterprises with 500-999 employees, which can be expected to have many servers. The statistics for 2014 show virtualization penetration rising in all employee-size segments: rapidly in microbusinesses and the 500-999 midmarket enterprises, and gradually in other SMB segments. The perspective on future intentions, drawn from the Techaisle SMB 2015 survey, indicates that these trends will continue and accelerate. Microbusinesses and larger SMBs (including both the 250-499 and the 500-999 segments) are expecting rapid further penetration of virtualized servers, and the other midmarket segments are expecting a further 6%-10% of servers to be virtualized.

percent-servers-virtualized-within-smbs-2015-techaisle

What does this trend mean to the market?

Clearly, there is increasing opportunity for hypervisor sales, and Techaisle would expect that VMware will find purchase within companies looking to connect virtualized servers to other infrastructure assets (especially, for example, hybrid cloud or software-defined networking or storage), while alternative suppliers, such as Microsoft, gain share in the core market as multi-hypervisor strategies become more common. Techaisle expects that this trend also indicates increased opportunity for converged infrastructure products as these systems can be used to capitalize on advanced virtualization capabilities.

Location of Virtualized servers

A comparison of 2013 and 2015 research results shows that within each employee size segment, SMB end-user organizations are becoming more likely to virtualize servers that are located outside of their business premises. Across the entire SMB community, there has been a 45% increase in off-premise virtualized servers in the past two years: an enormous shift that highlights the broader shift towards remote management of infrastructure resource.

location-of-virtualized-servers-smbs-2015-techaisle

If virtualizing servers is so popular – why isn’t it universal?

The Techaisle interview of 848 US SMB ITDMs uncovered a number of reasons why SMBs struggle with virtualization adoption. The top five challenges cited in the research illustrate the complexity that can accompany infrastructure changes.

The most prominent challenge, cited by 34% of SMB respondents, was the high cost of virtualization licenses, which may explain why the expansion of virtualization within current user accounts often includes investigation of (and in many cases, migration to) a multi-hypervisor strategy that adds “free” options such as Hyper-V and Xen.

top-5-server-virtualization-smb-challenges-2015-techaisle

The third most common challenge is that management of virtual servers proved to be more difficult than anticipated, which may reflect initial learning curve struggles and/or incremental complexities associated with environments relying on multiple hypervisors.

The second leading challenge, “projected cost/space/power savings not achieved,” highlights both the cost and complexity issues: it can be difficult to obtain projected densities/utilization rates during the adoption/migration period, and expenses can escalate in several ways: due to costs associated with virtualization solution licenses, and also because of the “high cost of ISV licenses for applications running in a virtualized environment” and generally higher-than-anticipated project costs. It is worth noting as well that in small businesses (1-99 employees), “lack of experience” is also seen as a major server virtualization challenge, cited by 22% of survey respondents.

On the positive side, the relatively high level of server virtualization experience found within the SMB channel partners (Techaisle SMB Channel Trends study) may help mitigate this issue – but it should act as a caution when evaluating market outlooks for VDI and DaaS, where experience levels within both the SMB buyer and SMB channel communities are much lower.

  0 Comments

VMware Mobility Solution: Innovation to Execution

Techaisle Take

VMware won – handily – the battle for leadership in server virtualization. The company attained broad acceptance within companies looking to bridge the gap between growth in compute demand and contraction in CAPEX budgets, and then drove penetration within these accounts, to the point where virtualization is the default approach to servers, and VMware is the de facto standard for virtualization within the data center.

The issue for VMware now is – what next? There is still some opportunity for growth in server virtualization, but customers are starting to hedge their virtualization bets by moving to multi-hypervisor strategies, including Hyper-V, Xen, and/or KVM within their environments. While successfully competing in its core market is essential, the “next big thing” for VMware isn’t found in beating back smaller server competitors – it’s expanding into the two big adjacent markets, client virtualization and cloud infrastructure management.

The client virtualization space poses some interesting challenges and opportunities, especially in the SMB market. Mobility has become a “must have” capability in today’s IT portfolio, but there’s no single, well-established path to deploying it: the visible hardware vendors (Apple, Samsung) don’t provide enterprise-grade solutions, and there is no existing standard for the various software components required to seamlessly support corporate and BYOD devices in an enterprise network. At the virtualization layer, Citrix is the current and clear leader, but anticipated growth provides enough opportunity for multiple competitors and strategies.

With its Horizon portfolio, VMware is attempting to position itself as an enterprise-grade answer to mobility requirements. The approach is interesting – but will it resonate with the channel serving the millions of SMB customers that fueled VMware’s success in server virtualization?

End-user Computing

Last week’s VMworld was a showcase for messaging about execution. Bite-sized announcements centered around three key areas – end-user computing, hybrid cloud services and software-defined data centers.  End-user computing is perhaps the most exciting for small and mid-market businesses as it directly feeds into their voracious appetite for mobility.

Techaisle study shows that the worldwide SMB Mobile Workforce will grow to 298 million by 2016 at 6.3 percent CAGR from 2013. Nearly 150 million SMB employees will be telecommuting and 120 million will be traveling on business. We are in a mobility cycle now that is characterized by intense competition for hardware, system software and applications leadership. The wave is young enough to offer margins on hardware, software and services, but as de facto standards become more entrenched this market will consolidate, and reseller focus will move to recurring service revenue as the margins erode in the hardware space.

With rapid increase in number of mobile workers, there are five main concerns that are percolating to the top of SMB's concerns: Cost of solutions that support mobile workers, security from theft and data privacy, mobile data pricing, transaction security and mobile device pricing. Recognizing some of these issues, Sanjay Poonen, VMware EVP & General Manager, End-User Computing said, “Mobility is a management and security problem”.

To cover its bases, VMware is currently betting on its Horizon Suite consisting of three products:

  1. Horizon View: VMware’s Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offering powered by View
  2. Horizon Mirage: VMware’s physical desktop management tool based on its Wanova acquisition
  3. Horizon Workspace: VMware’s mobility management solution enabling mobile users to access corporate data, applications and virtual desktops from different endpoint devices

As Ben Goodman, Lead Evangelist, End-User Computing told Techaisle, “Workspace is a single space for getting your stuff”. It will include MDM (Mobile Device Management), MAM (Mobile Application Management) and plans are afoot to develop MIM (Mobile Information Management) and MCM (Mobile Content Management).


VMware is slightly late into the SMB mobility space as most SMB-focused channel partners are offering Citrix solutions and a plethora of niche MDM solutions for SMBs. But Sanjay Poonen’s aggressiveness was palpable. He plans to invest heavily to drive growth in VDI. VMware is bullish on the potential for its installed base of 500,000 customers, many of them SMBs, to become customers for its mobility solutions. It plans to focus on IT (not just end-users) who are open to centralized policy management and who agree with VMware’s vision that mobility is part of a larger platform. This strategy has its advantages and disadvantages. By VMware’s own admission, Horizon Suite lies in the chasm between Innovators and Early Adopters along the adoption curve. For VMware, Early Majority to Laggards is a big white space. But this highly fragmented, disjoined white space within the SMBs is getting filled with its competitors. To achieve success, VMware must:

  1. Target its customers that have yet to adopt mobility management solutions
  2. Target its customers who are willing to rip and replace
  3. Target SMBs that are still investigating viable mobility management solutions


MDM and MAM are by far the most prominent top-of-mind issues for SMBs across different geographies. Surveys conducted by Techaisle reveal that SMBs worry about these issues a lot, but fail to protect themselves adequately. A Techaisle survey of 9,500 SMBs across different geographies found that accidental loss of device followed by imminent danger of mobile viruses are the top concerns of SMBs while using mobile applications. This clearly demonstrates the need for remote mobile device management, authentication, and remote erasure of data.

For a vendor like VMware, the route to these SMBs is through channel partners, who are themselves increasingly turning towards their vendor suppliers as their trusted advisors. Techaisle’s channel partner study shows that on the technology side of the business, 50 percent of channel partners want training on mobility solutions including VDI, DaaS and BYOD. Partners are also looking for help in marketing: to help position these solutions to customers, 42 percent of channel partners are looking for case studies that are relevant to their own client base. In addition, channels want to acquire capabilities to be able to customize mobility solutions for their SMB client base. Affordable maintenance and support, ease of use and features and functionalities suitable for SMB needs are top sales messaging that are being used by channel partners to sell end-user computing solutions.

Clearly, VMware has to use every trick it has in its arsenal to address these issues if it is to make end-user computing market segment the “next step” in its overall growth strategy.

For more information on Techaisle mobility and/or channel research, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  0 Comments

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.

 
  0 Comments

Search Blogs

Find Research

Blog Archive

Research You Can Rely On | Analysis You Can Act Upon

Techaisle - TA