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VARs see green in IBM XenSource solution

IBM and XenSource have combined their products to offer a virtualization solution that will be sold through Tech Data's channel. VARs see an opportunity for growth in the x86 server virtualization market.

In a move that XenSource executives believe will heighten their ability to compete with rival VMware, Inc., Tech Data's Advanced Infrastructure Solutions Division (AIS) announced that its channel partners will be offering IBM servers preconfigured with XenSouce's XenEnterprise virtualization software.

Tech Data will package XenEnterprise – XenSource's virtualization manager – on IBM System x3500 tower and x3550 rack-mounted x86-based servers in various configurations. XenEnterprise is designed to run virtual instances of both Windows and Linux simultaneously.

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"It is an excellent tool to be used by VARs and systems integrators," said Francis Poeta, president of Cliffside Park, N.J.-based P & M Computers, Inc., which resells XenXource, VMware and IBM products.

And the price – thousands less than VMware's implementation – is a huge advantage, Poeta said. The IBM x3500 dual-core server preconfigured with XenEnterprise is approximately $5,600. The IBM x3550 rack-mounted server loaded with the XenEnterprise is approximately $6,600.

"Prior to this offering think of the amount of companies that would be willing to pay VMware between $6,000 and $8,000 for virtualization software and $5,000 to manage multiple servers, not to mention the cost of a SAN storage environment," Poeta said. "This opens up the market and you can see the value of this IBM/ XenEnterprise bundle."

Sandeepan Mukherjee, Business Manager at SIGMAnet Inc., an Ontario, Calif.-based XenSource and VMware partner, said while VMware, as a market leader, has done a terrific job in the high-end market of establishing virtual infrastructure as a reality, the IBM/XenSource solution goes a step further.

"The IBM/Xensource bundle will proliferate virtualization further in the midmarket and SMB space. It will be an interesting option for our engineering team as well as all other customers looking at virtualizing their infrastructures," Mukherjee said.

While the packaging helps to reduce a VAR's work on implementing a virtualization solution, there is still room to grow margins.

"The IBM/Xensource solution provides the virtualization hypervisor along with the hardware," Mukherjee said. "However, the virtual infrastructure still needs to be designed, implemented, managed and audited. The large chunk of services opportunities still remain with the VARs," Mukherjee said.

To help resellers, Tech Data will provide technical and product management support.

"AIS will work closely with our business partners like IBM and XenSource to deliver creative, cost-effective solutions our customers can leverage to profitably deploy the latest data center technologies," said Tech Data's Amy Belcher, director, product marketing. "By purchasing the bundle through AIS, VARs will have access to dedicated specialists highly skilled and knowledgeable about those solutions, including server virtualization and consolidation."

"Tech Data is one of the most established distributors with a strong technical team to address all the challenges related to virtual infrastructure. I only see advantages at this point," said Mukherjee.

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