As many of you are already aware, virtualization is the next big thing for many SMBs. According to VMWare, the use of virtualized servers has jumped from 29% in 2009 up to 66% last year, representing an increase in use that’s doubled in only 3 years. Virtual servers drastically cut operating costs; the time and money that were once spent on physical server resources and their daily management can instead be funneled back into core operations to grow the business.
While it’s clear that the world is moving towards virtualized servers, many SMBs struggle to understand its benefits, and may even think their data is being stored in some foreign, virtualized world. As a Managed Services Provider (MSP), it’s important to understand these concerns and be able to address them accordingly and explain the benefits. Virtualized servers don’t always need to be stored off-premise. Make sure your clients know the impact it can have on their business, yet feel safe where their data is being stored.
What’s the Holdup?
What is it about virtualization that holds SMBs back from committing to an increasingly useful and effective tool? The two biggest barriers here are cost and perception. Small businesses tend to believe that virtualization is really only beneficial for massive enterprise use, and that costs to moving to virtualized servers only makes sense on a large scale. They can also perceive virtualization as a complex and foreign topic, and don’t understand the benefits of making the switch. Some clients might want to know all the nuances, some might just care about the increased efficiencies they gain from virtualization. Either way, be prepared to answer both types of questions.
Here are some statistics that should help you get the conversation started:
- Virtualization can increase the utilization rates of servers by up to 80%, according to another survey conducted by VMware. The typical utilization rate of physical servers hovers between 5% and 15%.
- Small businesses accomplish more with less equipment, especially when compared to the comparative inefficiency of physical servers.
- Virtual servers greatly reduce the energy costs typically associated with maintaining a large number of physical servers.
- Per-application costs are reduced by up to 30%; virtualization makes it far easier to design customized solutions that improve daily operations.
- On average, operating costs are cut by at least 25% overall, according to the VMWare survey respondents.
Introducing SMBs Slowly
All these points make a compelling argument for the transition to virtual servers, yet many small businesses remain resistant to change. That’s why introducing them to the concept—and benefits—slowly is the easiest way to sell virtualization to SMBs.
Just like you may sneak vegetables to your kids’ meals by puréeing them into spaghetti sauce, MSPs can introduce a little virtualization into their SMBs’ diet. Many have already started by incorporating virtual services initially as part of their data backup and disaster recovery solutions. As customers grow to appreciate the benefits of a virtualized environment, and as you continue to educate them, the concept moves away from a hard sell and more into a state of natural evolution.
As an MSP, it’s your job to provide the services and the expertise so that your clients can maximize on their information systems. Virtualization, and by extension Cloud, continues to be a hot topic in the IT world, and many SMBs are struggling to understand and utilize its benefits. While this may seem like a challenge, this is an opportunity for MSPs to improve their client relationships while also adding to your revenues.
What have you found to be best strategies for selling virtualization to your clients?