The secrets of making money out of datacentre solutions
Regardless of whether information is kept in-house or outsourced end-users have one basic concern – if it all turns to custard how fast can I get my business up and running again?An increasingly popular option is for businesses to hand over their infrastructure and data needs to an offsite datacentre.However Roger Cockayne, Revera managing director, points out that datacentre is a loosely used term. “It’s not a building with computers in it any more than a technical park is a piece of grass with roads through it. You’ll find a lot of people actually mean tele-housing or server room,” he says.Instead Cockayne believes a true datacentre is a combination of IP, management skills, industrial strength hardware and the blending of physical attributes and processes. Cockayne says end users are behind the drive for simplicity and believes datacenters need to operate with a pragmatic approach. “An end user expects you to keep out bad weather as well as flu epidemics - keeping things going and making sure the crown jewels are being looked after are the main issues.” Behind the scenes Cockayne says the market is going through several changes especially now traditional ISPs are making the move into datacentre discipline. “There’s a lot of room for consolidation of IT and services. Revera wholesales its services and ideally would like to sell to everyone but at this stage many small businesses are still reliant on brown cardigans.” Yet Michael Early, GFI ANZ regional manager, says that while outsourcing can reduce some infrastructure costs that option has to be weighed up against the degree of control and flexibility a business has over its information. “The out of sight out of mind provided by outsourcing suits some businesses more than others and I believe an independent consultant should be employed to conduct an unbiased study for the business over suitability,” he says.Businesses now face a multitude of challenges, says Early, and he advises partners to focus on specific problems.“IT can increase productivity if correctly implemented but it can also severely impact on a business if the implementation is sloppy and doesn’t adequately address how information is managed by the business.” Once partners have identified the pain point and recommended the appropriate solution Early says they should install a trial version of the product so the customer can see the full benefits.He says GFI partners can not only make great margins from selling an initial licence and software maintenance but also selling ongoing software maintenance, anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-phising updates. For example, Early says ongoing software maintenance is competitively priced as it includes 12 months of upgrades and technical support for only 20% of the retail price. Partners can also look at key vertical markets with special pricing available to government, education and not-for-profit customers. “Additionally partners can sell their own installation, customisation and support services around GFI software to deliver a complete solution,” says Early.John Mills, GFI product manager at Observatory Crest, says there is strong demand for the product range across a wide range of clientele. In fact, says Mills, the beauty of the products is that they’re purpose built for administrators. “I’m finding there’s a whole layer of resellers wanting to get into the SME space and GFI can get them into those businesses. The products are cheap as chips and there’s not a huge training climb required,” he says. Mills says the most popular GFI products are the antispam MailEssentials because of its strong scalability and the LANguard network security scanner, widely used by IT service providers to monitor vulnerabilities and patch management. “Actually this has broad appeal in government sectors, tertiary institutes and some of the large corporate sites where it’s used as a key component to enforce network security,” he says. Mills works closely with the channel supplying leads to resellers and following up with product information, quotes and will join resellers at appointments to reinforce the GFI story. Meanwhile HP says its new StorageWorks solution is perfect for solving many of today’s business problems. Aaron Lamond, StorageWorks product manager, says feedback gained from focus groups has highlighted exactly what SME customers are concerned about. “Many SME customers don’t have specialist IT skills in-house so one of the key requirements is for a reliable, worry-free solution to manage and secure data. That frees them up to concentrate on growing their business,” he says. StorageWorks is a networked storage solution combining shared application server storage, a Windows-based file server, data protection and management software. Lamond says he’s been involved with StorageWorks for around seven years and genuinely believes this offering provides a full portfolio for SMEs – regardless of the problem. And, at a start price of $8,000 for 1TB, Lamond believes it puts enterprise-class technology within the reach of smaller businesses. While SMEs understand the benefits of SAN Lamond says they are put off by the complexity and specialist skills required to implement and manage it.“This solution delivers the same functionality without needing the specialist skills. SMEs have limited training resources and, while they understand application and server management, don’t have the expertise to handle storage management.” HP partners play a key role in the success of StorageWorks and Lamond is working to ensure the channel has all the tools it needs. “HP will be making a lot of noise to raise awareness among SME customers but partners are crucial to delivery. I’m committed to making sure partners understand the solution and how to wrap services around it.”Lamond sees partners typically providing services around application support and critical services in migrating data to the new solution. “That could be administered by a partner or on a support as required basis. The key for partners is to explain the benefits from a technical and business level.”SMEs don’t want to invest in IT expertise they merely want to simplify their infrastructure“Based on feedback one of the biggest concerns is the amount of time spent managing data instead they want to grow their business, this solution takes that headache away. It’s really simple to add more capacity - you just turn the tap up if you need more,” he says.