5 ways resellers can optimise their customer's hyperconvergence solution and gain competitive advantage
Hyperconverged infrastructure can be a start point for transformational shifts in IT for your customers, but there are a number of ways resellers can optimise on the opportunities.
Hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) offers partners a valuable opportunity to change how their customers view their critical IT infrastructure. HCI aims to eliminate the cost and complexity associated with managing silos of systems in the data centre, and instead present a unified and easier-to-deploy platform that can meet both short term and more strategic goals.
Yet, like every shift in technology from the dawn of the PC era to the rise of virtualisation, HCI requires both a change of mindset. You need a good understanding of the technology benefits and limitations if it is to meet your customer’s needs, as well as allow you to build a lasting business model. Here are five important areas that a reseller should consider as part of the process.
1. Moving IT out of the silo
For many years, organisations have tended to think of IT as a sum of parts. This is reflected in the organisational structure with dedicated network, storage and application teams and budget. The truth is that these infrastructure elements are just the tools to deliver a business benefit, normally through well-defined processes supported by software. The days of the monolithic applications such as databases and ERP systems are not completely in the past, but the modern mission critical IT environment is more akin to an interlocking web of applications and services that need to continually adapt to meet the drivers of the business.
This shift is precisely where HCI is best able to shine, by effectively taking these discreet IT building blocks and presenting them as a unified and scalable resource that, through virtualisation, can be organised to meet a specific use case. Where customers would previously think about the server deployment, network changes, and potential storage upgrade needed to deploy new IT resources; HCI instead provides a software-based approach to resource allocation. The argument should never be ‘HCI is a better server or storage system’, but rather it allows IT to become a true service model that benefits the business and not just the silo.
2. A new refresh cycle
This switch towards a unified model of resource provisioning has a profound impact on customer deployments. Previously, organisations would need to over-provision on compute, networking and storage to allow room for growth. Instead, HCI promotes a scale out as you need methodology.
It’s not just hardware elements. HCI appliances are designed to allow scale up, and potentially down, of the software elements such backup, disaster recovery and management elements as and when the need arises. For resellers, this means that the discussion should not be focused on solving a storage problem or a management complexity issue, but as a way of fundamentally improving the efficiency of delivering the whole IT stack.
3. Welcome to ‘small and often’
The move away from siloed thinking also leads on to a change in purchasing habits. The three or five-year refresh cycle, which in earlier times would often coincide with operating systems updates, has evaporated as organisations rely less on OS features and more on virtualisation capabilities and web scale architectures.
This means HCI deals will often initially see resellers dip a toe in the water with a three or five node resilient customer a good way for organisations to explore the impact of the technology. The ‘small and often’ approach takes advantage of the latest generation of components while still benefiting from a single operating environment, management console and feature set. The only constant is the rack unit form factor which allows for customers to better plan datacentre utilisation strategies.
For resellers that have experienced the move away from hardware-dependent refresh cycles to business models geared towards value added and managed services, the buying pattern prompted by HCI should not be a major burden. In fact, it could be considered a benefit as it allows more contact between supplier and customer, and opportunities to be in constant contact instead of waiting years for the next request for a proposal.
4. Solve the cloud deficiency
The long-term trend within the IT industry is towards the cloud. However, the cloud assumes that the connecting pipe from consumer to provider is always sufficient for the use case. In many instances, on-premise is vastly superior in terms of raw performance.
The biggest strength of cloud is the ability to scale up workloads when required and then stop when the task is finished. In this respect, cloud is a fantastic resource but it is not always the most cost-effective when there is a highly-structured process using data sources and interwoven applications that are all held on-premise. The very act of having to send data off-site for processing before returning to your own data centre can become a massive inefficiency. HCI, in many ways, can be considered as an internal cloud as it allows resources to be allocated based on need, and then released for other tasks as required, and most of the solutions have advanced automated tools to encourage this thin provisioning.
HCI puts customers in direct control of the hardware which offers more flexibility over organisational changes. Although cloud is in vogue now, moving to a distributed scale-out equivalent may well become a trend in the future, and HCI organisations can exercise their preference or as a response to mergers, reorganisations or data centre space limitations. This flexibility is a value that resellers need to communicate to customers, along with performance and cost benefits, as a value-add that cloud services are not always able to deliver.
5. Think beyond tactical
These three concepts – the end of the silo, the shift to a small and often buying along with the flexibility benefits – are significant enough changes that can make customers fundamentally rethink their longer-term IT strategy. The HCI conversation is not a tactical argument over which vendor or how many units to deploy, but potentially the starting point for a transformational shift in how IT is offered and consumed within each organisation.
For resellers that can articulate the longer-term benefits, and deliver the consulting, design and implementation support in concert with aligned services, HCI is an absolute game changer. It can be both a starting point for your customers to transform their business, but also an opportunity for resellers like you to optimise existing solutions and increase revenue streams.
- HCI can help breakthrough the rigid way of thinking about individual IT infrastructure layers to help create a more agile and unified business environment.
- HCI moves to a small and often purchasing and deployment cycle which is beneficial for customers by reducing CAPEX spend and wasteful over provisioning.
- HCI can solve some of the data over network inefficiencies that make cloud unsuitable for certain workloads.