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Hyper-converged has moved beyond the hype: 5 reasons for the channel to sit up and take notice of HCI


1 August 2017:

Andy Dean, Technology Manager at Azlan explains why now is the right time for channel partners to get on board with hyper-converged infrastructure  

Once identified as an emerging trend, hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) has become an adopted technology and transcended the hype curve. According to Gartner HCI will be the fastest growing segment of the overall market for integrated systems reaching almost $5 billion, which translates to 24 percent of the market, by 2019[i].

As businesses continue on their journey to digital transformation, many are looking to move away from siloed environments and towards a reliable platform for application delivery. This shift represents an opportunity for channel partners that are keen to focus on emerging technologies as their core offering rather than compute, storage and networking products. Here are five reasons for channel partners to take a closer look at HCI.

  • 1.     Hardware sales are becoming commoditised

Compute, storage and networking product sales are becoming commoditised with the advent of software defined solutions. If channel partners are to develop an emerging technologies practice, the focus needs to shift from pitching products to designing solutions. In an increasingly commoditised environment, infrastructure products should be simple to position, easy to transact and swift to adopt as environments evolve and scale.

Hyper-converged systems, which combine servers, networking and storage into a single offering, offer such a platform. The ability to sell hyper-converged solutions will be crucial for channel partners as competition starts to escalate in this space. They also offer a significant opportunity to drive service revenue as businesses look for external expertise to help them make the transition.

  • 2.     Managing buying cycles presents the opportunity for long-term planning

Fundamentally, HCI is driven by software defined functionality, which aims to offer flexibility, reduced cost and added agility in which compute, network and storage resources are pooled for increased efficiency and better management.

However, achieving this can be difficult when, for example, an organisation has budget for a scheduled replacement of the compute platform but is only half way through the lifecycle of the storage array.  Therefore funds for HCI are limited.  In these situations, managing the customer’s buying cycle becomes essential. The reality is most companies will need to grow into a hyper-converged environment over time, and as such, channel partners will need to first assess whether the solution integrates with existing infrastructure resources.

Although this can present a challenge it also offers an opportunity to have a broader conversation about the customer’s expectations and longer-term strategy. This approach not only embeds a channel partner within the customer but also identifies other potential opportunities.

By taking a step back, channel partners can work with customers to develop a three-year road map with a staggered procurement cycle in line with budgets. By taking a more consultative and longer-term view, they can assist IT departments in demonstrating the value of technology in delivering genuine business outcomes.

  • 3.     One size does not fit all - finding the best-fit technology is key

Vendor messaging often focuses on the scalability of HCI solutions, which can lead some to believe that hyper-converged is not designed for small to medium sized enterprises (SME). However, it is possible to start small and stay small.

With compute, network, storage and server virtualisation all in one box, HCI is an ideal solution for SMEs, providing significant operational and simplification benefits. The integrated, pre-tested/validated nature of the configurations means SMEs only have to think about which supplier to choose; often there is little or no certification and testing to be performed.

However, not every HCI vendor has a solution to suit every size of business and budget. Channel partners can overcome the concerns of customers relating to suitability, budget and performance by identifying the best-fit technology for the market sector with the help of their distribution partner.

  • 4.     Total cost of ownership (TCO ) – making the case for HCI v traditional

HCI offers many benefits over traditional storage including greater efficiency, performance, agility and ease of management. Therefore, while the cost of HCI may well be similar to that of more traditional compute, storage and network solutions, there are savings to be made over the lifetime of the technology. This is especially the case when cost savings associated with ongoing management, upgrade, workload portability and data migration are taken into consideration.

Customers will inevitably question whether they will have to rip and replace their entire infrastructure to maximise on the benefits. There will also be concerns about unrecoverable costs on existing assets that have not reached the end of their refresh cycle.

Forward thinking channel partners looking to capitalise on the move from the traditional data centre to HCI can help customers by guiding them through the options. By educating customers, channel partners can present the total cost of ownership and assist in selecting a solution that works well with existing systems, allowing customers to realise the full value of their current and future investment.

 

  • 5.     Modern times require modern infrastructures

Hyper-converged infrastructure may not be the answer for every opportunity today, but it is a technology channel partners would be wise to embrace.

Traditional computing and storage platforms are not equipped to keep pace with demand and as businesses continue on their digital transformation journey they will seek technology that can support their business objectives.

Channel partners need to be speaking with their customers now; understanding business requirements and buying cycles with a longer-term view of designing and implementing a solution within the next three years.

How Azlan can help?

The HCI market is growing and channel partners can maximise on the opportunity by investing in their own hyper-converged practice. By having conversations with customers to understand their longer-term plans, partners will be well placed to create long-term, high value relationships. Those starting out with HCI can still capitalise on the market opportunity by utilising Azlan’s knowledge, sales engineers and services to bridge any gaps in their own expertise. 

Working with Azlan, partners can gain valuable flexibility to respond to new and unexpected opportunities that might otherwise be out of reach. They can also benefit from reduced time to invoice as there are clear savings in deployment and other implementation costs.  Azlan can help to present these cost differentiators and help tip the balance in a favour of HCI over a more traditional approach and open the door into a new world of opportunity.   


[i] http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3308017

Gartner Report - Prepare for the Next Phase of Hyper-convergence – George J Weiss and Andrew Butler – 26 April 2017

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