The key pitfalls of hyperconvergence and how to avoid them
Despite its popularity, some of your customers will still raise objections to hyperconvergence. Here’s how to overcome them.
While there are thousands of organisations worldwide that are already committed to a hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) deployment in their data centre or IT environment, there is still a huge number of potential customers that have yet to realise the benefits of the technology.
Some customers are unaware still of its cost and operational advantages, others may have concerns over committing their IT budget in a new, disruptive technology. It is important to cut through the hype and address your customers’ questions in a manner that makes it clear what HCI can – and in some cases, can’t – do. The key is transparency and maintaining customer trust, being the trusted advisor that can help them decide what is right for their business.
At the same time, there are common pitfalls that the channel should also avoid when it comes to selling HCI.
One of the most frequently-heard objections from customers is related to pricing. Assuming the customer knows, at a basic level what hyperconvergence is, there can still be a misunderstanding surrounding the value of HCI.
They might compare the cost of an HCI solution to that of commodity hardware – something they are used to purchasing for their data centres. On those terms, HCI will seem expensive. However, it is important to educate the customer on the value that hyperconvergence brings to the organisation.
This can be reflected too, in the mindset of the partner. A common pitfall some resellers fall into when they first approach a hyperconvergence sale is attempting an ‘apples to apples’ type comparison with legacy IT. They think they can sell it in much the same way: how much power, how much memory, how much storage does the customer need?
It’s important to differentiate HCI from traditional IT infrastructure in the eyes of the customer. The cost of operation is lower and there’s also a massive reduction in complexity with a major improvement in flexibility, which in concert drives significant backend savings.
Sometimes the education sales cycle will be a longer process, but it is necessary to convey the cost and operational benefits of the technology which will lead to more incremental sales over a longer and more predictable sales cycle.
Another potential danger comes where the reseller enters the sales cycle – server and storage replacements and application lifecycles rarely align. Often it will be two or three years before the end of a cycle, and IT managers and CIOs are naturally reticent to replace assets like servers they haven’t finished sweating.
Timing is everything. However, if this happens it’s a good idea for partners to focus on specific application use cases, such as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) or scaling of say an SQL database. Plus, it’s possible the reseller can persuade the CIO that by switching over to HCI, they are going to save more money than that asset is costing them anyway.
Another misconception on the channel side is related to services; some resellers are discouraged from selling hyperconvergence because, initially, it can be more difficult to see how they can add value to the sale.
HCI’s high level of automation moves an organisation’s IT from being ‘expert-friendly’ to ‘user-friendly’, and where partners could previously earn service revenues from installation, configuration, sizing and break-fix, there just isn’t the requirement with hyperconverged solutions. There’s very little to ‘manage’.
However, the services potential hasn’t disappeared – it’s just changed. For example, some successful channel partners have redirected their efforts to building a more application, design and solution-centric services business.
Others are focusing on the migration and integration of workloads alongside cloud – all areas where an investment deeper application and infrastructure skills that are costly for customers to retain in house can now become a valuable commodity.
HCI is disruptive to everything it touches – the technical architecture, the way customers deploy IT and traditional business models – but it can also enable a higher value set of services.
It’s less common to encounter today, but some customers may still regard hyperconvergence as an immature market, and are uncertain of investing in a disruptive technology. Again, this can be countered through education.
There are enough proof points and referenceable customers available to demonstrate the viability of the technology, and to reassure them of the low risk associated with it. Plus, every major vendor now has an HCI strategy along with products, which reinforces the argument that this is no longer an emerging technology but a proven, deployed architecture.
With its continued growth – Gartner says hyperconvergence will be mainstream within five years – and that while traditional server and storage markets remain stagnant, it’s clear that hyperconvergence and the move to the enterprise cloud is the way forward, and not just a fad.
- Customers will raise objections to hyperconvergence on the grounds of cost, effort or lack of value-add. Resellers should pitch the benefits of reduced costs, streamlined management and improved security.
- HCI is a disruptive technology which some customers may find too daunting for their business. Counteract these concerns by pitching the transformative nature of hyperconvergence that can help them to innovate more efficiently.
- To avoid fundamental pitfalls, you will need to understand what your customers are looking to achieve, how they currently manage their infrastructure and how they can improve this in the future.