In a bid to drive growth for Hewlett-Packard VARs, Avnet Partner Solutions completed a multi-city tour across Canada last month focusing on the benefits of virtualization and consolidating to a blade server and storage area network environment.During its Toronto stop, the value-added distributor brought close to 150 resellers and customers together to discuss issues and opportunities in IT consolidation.
“Avnet has a responsibility to bring core pieces of distribution like logistics, sales, marketing, finance and technical services, but as a Fortune 200 company, we have to raise that bar,” said Brian Aebig, director of sales, HP Business unit for Avnet Partner Solutions in Canada.
“We have to bring operational excellence to the table, often in the form of automation and tools usage in incremental supplier relationships, and in vertical market programs like these seminars.”
Bringing the right partners together to add value and support is vital, added Aebig. In the case of virtualization, server and storage consolidation those partners include Hewlett-Packard, VMware Inc. and Brocade.
Last year HP made a move designed to simplify the management of storage area network (SAN) connectivity with the addition of a 16-port Brocade Silkworm 4Gbit/s SAN switch to its BladeSystem racks.
And in September, HP augmented its virtual server offering by adding VMware technology to its Intel-based ProLiant servers.
More tools added
Upgraded management and planning tools have also been included like Vmotion, which enables users to move live, running virtual machines from one host to another while maintaining continuous service availability.
Virtualization allows an enterprise to operate multiple machines, with heterogeneous operating systems running in isolation on the same sever. Each has its own set of virtual hardware, like RAM, CPU and NIC, on which an OS and applications are loaded.
According to John Loether, an industry consultant and a speaker at the event, there are a number of benefits for an enterprise to become virtualized. Servers can be consolidated into virtual machines on either a scale-up or scale-out architecture, he explained. And the computers are isolated from the host and other virtual machines, so if one crashes, all others are not affected, he added.
For HP’s reseller partners, the business opportunities in this market space have been encouraging.
Curtis Brown, president of Strategic Concepts Group of Mississauga, Ont., said 30 per cent of the firm’s business comes from IT consolidation.
“We’ve been offering consolidation solutions for five years,” he said. To attract customers it has conducted seminars, sent mailers and invested in a demo centre in its facility, so “we can demonstrate what we preach.”
Nextide, a consulting and systems integration company also based in Mississauga, has been in the consolidation business for three years.
It started as a hardware and infrastructure reseller, but as profit margins in both areas declined the company moved more into services, said Joe Aucoin, director of sales. “You have to look for ways to work with clients where you provide a service and add on value — that’s why we’re called value-added resellers,” he said.
Aucoin added that in consolidation services solutions are priced separately. “The margin on people tends to be much higher than the margin on a piece of hardware. The value is the person’s knowledge, not the fact that you have a box that does something.”