Server virtualisation for the IT beginner.

Improve your customer’s understanding of server virtualisation, what it can do, and why it matters to their business.

Server virtualisation is when an administrator uses virtualisation software to convert one physical server into multiple virtual machines. Each virtual server runs multiple operating system instances at the same time. With dwindling IT budgets, and a whole host of issues with existing IT infrastructure, a data centre administrator will look towards server virtualisation as a resolution to many of their immediate problems.

The benefits of virtualisation

As you may have guessed – the first benefit is a reduction in costs; companies can rely on less physical servers, so they save on hardware costs as well as on power and cooling for running that hardware. And with less physical servers, a smaller number of racks and a reduction in networking equipment needed, customers can also slash their data centre’s overall footprint.

Those benefits alone would get customers thinking about moving to server virtualisation – although you’d be hard pressed to find a customer that doesn’t have a reasonable amount of virtualisation within the business already. In fact, the increase of virtualisation – along with other technologies including the cloud are denting the physical server market with worldwide server revenue declining year-on-year.

Jeffrey Hewitt, research vice president at Gartner said the down drift was “due to the increasing ability of customers to leverage additional virtual machines on existing servers, without new hardware, to meet their server application needs”.

Speak to your customers about how virtualisation can:

  • Speed up server provisioning so customers can clone an existing machine without the ridiculous number of hours spent installing a new physical server.
  • Reduce data centre hardware vendor lock-in as it takes away the underlying hardware and replaces it with virtual hardware.
  • Enhance uptime, meaning they are up and running more than physical servers.
  • Replicate virtual machines to improve disaster recovery, with machines up and running again in a matter of minutes.
  • Extend the life of legacy applications – many customers have apps running in their environment that don’t run on a modern operating system, or on newer hardware, or that hasn’t been updated in years. Once virtualised, its life can be extended and uptime can be maintained.

Virtualisation opportunities lie in add-ons

Virtualisation isn’t a one-off, nor is it a short-term fix for your customers concerns. In fact, Gartner expected the worldwide x86 server virtualisation market to reach $5.6bn (£4.55bn) in 2016 – an increase of 5.7 per cent from 2015.

More recently, Gartner noted that despite the overall market increase, new software licenses had declined for the first time since the market became mainstream more than a decade ago and that growth is now being driven by maintenance revenue. In a saturated market, customers are looking for some additional value with server virtualisation – such as a management product, or new approaches such as OS container-based virtualisation and cloud computing.

When your customers think of the virtualisation in the future of their company, make sure to let them know you can always be their trusted advisor.

Conclusion

To sell server virtualisation, partners need to understand what the customer is looking for, and align server virtualisation with those long-term goals. It could be a shift to a private cloud or a software-defined data centre. Or it could be that they’re having issues with an existing server virtualisation product, in which case they may need a management product, an assessment, or a shift to software-defined storage. Whatever happens, you should have the answer to their problems.

Takeaways

  • Your customers may be focusing on virtualisation for the here and now, but they need to care about the future of their business too. Server virtualisation opens up endless opportunities for their business, from cloud computing right through to increased efficiency.
  • Explore what business goals your customers are looking to achieve and how server virtualisation can help them to get there more efficiently and smoothly, all while reducing their data centre footprint.
  • Ensure your customer really understands what virtualisation is, what it does, how it works and how it can give them the freedom to innovate throughout their business.

The Trusted Advisor Blueprint: A definitive guide to server virtualisation