David Tebbutt, originally published on CRN

Much has been written about virtualisation and the opportunities it offers for selling software, services and equipment. The drivers vary according to the motivation of the buyer: they might focus on cost, energy, space or IT flexibility, for example.

In the latter case, the focus is on more dynamic forms of infrastructure virtualisation ­ the ability to call on computing resources according to the needs of the current workload.

The separation of physical hardware from applications that is a fundamental part of this then leads to the possibility of outsourcing at least some of the IT infrastructure. It also potentially allows the use of service provider resources on a temporary basis when demand overflows internal capacity.

The resulting model is what some refer to as cloud computing or, more specifically, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Recently, we surveyed 598 businesses around the world to find out how seriously they are taking the trends of virtualisation and cloud computing.

Not surprisingly, the research told us that virtualisation is going mainstream, with two-thirds of respondents either implementing or considering the approach.

Commitment to cloud computing is less well developed, but interest is clearly building.
The information gets more interesting when the survey results are cross-analysed for any correlation between virtualisation adoption and the consideration of cloud computing.

We found that more than 40 per cent of those who are already embracing virtualisation are either already embracing or considering the adoption of cloud services.

And 25 per cent of those merely considering virtualisation are already looking seriously at the cloud.

The question for resellers and systems integrators is: ‘Are you part of the channel for the cloud providers?’ If you’re not, all your virtualisation efforts are steering your clients into the waiting arms of the hosting companies.

Far better for you to keep the relationship with your clients and be seen to take care of’ the hosting side of things, even though this is actually done elsewhere.

This fits well with another reality, which is that a wholesale move to cloud is unlikely. A mixed environment, with some local resources and some cloud based-services, is the most likely outcome.

Someone will have to take care of business locally and handle any dependencies between cloud service providers that might arise. In the absence of an internal IT department, this really needs some kind of IT professional who can understand the issues and keep the show on the road.

The hosting companies are, no doubt, rather interested in picking up as much direct business as possible. The customers are then left to self-manage because the hosts cannot handle the support volume.

If your clients are dependent on you for help with their day-to-day operations, you really will need to find hosting organisations you can trust, with which you can create a good working relationship and from which you can get a good deal, leaving you with an appropriate margin to pay for your extended role in life.

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