Written by Stuart Crawford, SBSC Community in Alberta

There are a high number of IT Professionals acting as leaders in the virtualization world, practicing what they preach about the benefits of virtualizing our server environments and doing some wonderful things in the virtualization world.

We have solutions built on Microsoft’s Hyper-V, VMware and others that are starting to make to leave a big footprint in many of the world’s well known and largest enterprise corporations who are looking at new ways to leverage these technologies as part of their overall disaster recovery and business continuity plan, maybe it is to offset a fraction of the costs related to large server farms and also looking to virtualized environments to save the environment as part of their green initiatives. Whatever the reason is virtualization just makes sense today.

The benefits of virtualization don’t stop at the Fortune 500 corporations; innovative smaller businesses are starting to leverage the power of virtualization in their businesses with many of the similar business reasons as their larger counterparts. Small Business today has needs related to disaster recovery, business continuity, cost recovery and even reducing their own carbon footprint and electing to move forward with greener solutions. Virtualization leveraging Microsoft’s Hyper-V is a perfect fit for small business and fits naturally into a small business’ overall technology agenda.

Virtualizing the Small Business

In the past, cost was a major deterrent to virtualizing small business environments. Microsoft has now made it very cost effective to virtualize their server environments using their Hyper-V technology. Cost is no longer a major blockage for many businesses, and when small business virtualizes server environments they are seeing the small business costs related to hardware purchases and added IT support costs related to the overall support of multiple servers in a business environment has decreased and in some areas been eliminated from their technology budget.

With Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 Premium Edition, Small Business can take advantage of a multiple server environment with a lower cost of entry. SBS 2008 Premium, offers all the standard SBS services like Exchange Server 2007, SQL Server and much more and combine these needed services with the power of Microsoft Hyper-V to virtualize additional services like Terminal Services, Line of Business applications or additional file storage, small business now has a solution that will meet their entire business requirements and offer the stability they have become accustomed to in traditional hardware based services.

Changes in licensing of Virtual Servers

Virtualizing the Small Business Server Environment is not as expensive as many partners may believe. Recently Microsoft announced that they are changing their licensing structure with regards to deploying Microsoft Server 2008 as a host for virtual servers. In the past, when small business was looking to virtualize their legacy Windows Server 2003 environments using Server 2008, they were required to purchase not only the client access licenses for their 2003 servers they also needed to invest in licenses for the 2008 platforms. Today, the need for client access licenses for the virtual server hosts is no longer required as long as the 2008 server is used for running the 2003 based servers as a host.

What are partners doing?

Innovative partners are jumping in with both feet into the virtual environment “We deployed our first production virtual server for a client in July of 2006 and since January 2007 we have fully virtualized every single server we’ve sold” states Jeff Anderson, President of Southern Alberta’s Managed Service Provider, Bulletproof InfoTech. “We’ve also done several retrofit P2V conversions reusing existing hardware, so we too are sometimes surprised at the slow adoption of virtualization in the SMB space”.

What stops partners from adopting virtual server solutions?

Virtualization solutions must be lead by the Partner. Clients, unless they are very technical are not asking for virtualization. Small Business owners are basically unaware of the benefits that virtualized environments can offer to their business. Partners now must change our talk from technical speak that many of us are comfortable with to having those business discussions with our clients so the benefits of Hyper-V and virtualization match to what their business requirements are. Only then can we start designing our solutions around the needs of the business.

Now is the time to invest in training

It is very easy for partners to continue doing what we have always done rather than investing the time and training needed to move forward to fully understand how to position Hyper-V and other virtualization solutions with the clients that we serve. Not only is virtualization a technology learning investment it is also a sales, marketing and business acumen training investment.

Positioning virtualization solutions for our clients is very different than simply selling server hardware and services. Many of our traditional services around Small Business Server will remain the same on how we position the solutions. With virtualization, our talk with clients will be on the benefits of virtualizing environments related to cost savings, protecting their data from disasters, leverage the green computing initiatives and informing clients that the days of having many servers is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Marketing, sales and technical training is critical to a partner becoming a leader in the virtualization space. Investing in the right training, informing their staff and relating these learnings to discussion with clients on how virtualizing solutions using Microsoft’s Hyper-V can benefit their business is a must.

Partners must eat their own dog food here and start to virtualize their own environments. David Lee of Ottawa’s DigiVie Communications recently started to virtualize his environments and states “Those experiences behind me now, I am definitely a proponent, and have essentially decided all future servers will be Hyper-V, if at all possible.”

Next steps

The next steps to understanding what Hyper-V can do for your business is to engage with your Microsoft Account Manager. They are here to assist you get the resources needed so your business can move forward in offering virtualized environments to your clients base. Combine this support with your own research, linking up with your peers and most importantly testing Hyper-V in your own environments will separate you from the remainder of the pack.

Stuart Crawford is the Vice President of Business Development for Southern Alberta’s Managed Services Provider, Bulletproof InfoTech. Bulletproof InfoTech offers complete network management, computer services and computer consulting to small business in Calgary and Red Deer. He can be reached at stuart.crawford@bulletproofit.ca. Stuart blogs at http://blog.itsuccessmentor.com daily sharing his views on today’s technology business.

Thank you for reading...

Subscribe by RSS or

This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no rights.