Solution provider takeaway: VARs working with desktop virtualization can find revenue opportunities around deployment, implementation and maintenance.
As margins for selling desktops fade, continuing to sell them has become a necessary evil of sorts. Desktop virtualization can help bring new sources of revenues to value-added reseller (VAR) partners and make their job of maintaining and provisioning new equipment far easier while providing a valuable service to customers.
Desktop virtualization owes its emergence to several factors:
- The speed of CPUs is increasing faster than the requirements of business applications.
- CPU speed and memory are becoming less relevant as businesses move to Web-based applications.
- Local hard drive space is becoming less relevant for business users since their data is stored on servers or within server-based applications.
- The cost of deploying fast and efficient LANs using Gigabit Ethernet is low.
- Server virtualization technology has matured and been embraced in the industry.
- Managing desktops in a decentralized fashion is inefficient and expensive.
- The movement to control power costs is spreading as energy costs continue to rise.
Over the past few years, the virtualization industry has been focused exclusively on server consolidation to reduce the number of servers in data centers and in your customers' closets. Although very valuable to VARs for its ability to add flexibility, the process of virtualizing servers is largely transparent to business users. Virtualization vendors, such as VMware, have extended their mature server virtualization platform to embrace desktop virtualization. And Microsoft is not far behind; its acquisition of desktop virtualization management vendor Kidaro is indicative of its intention to broaden and support desktop virtualization in its product line.
Desktop virtualization centralizes desktop operating systems on a server. Thin client devices and computers can then access those desktops using software provided by the desktop virtualization vendor. Beyond the efficiencies brought about by centralized management, desktop virtualization addresses disaster recovery concerns. As desktops move to a server-based infrastructure, accessing them becomes much easier in case of a disaster. All that will be required is access to the network where the servers reside, and office workers can continue to function without the business having to purchase new desktop computers.
You could create recurring revenue by managing and maintaining all the pieces to the puzzle, and in a much more efficient way. For example, take a user who needs a Windows XP desktop with all applications installed. The system image is already stored on the server. You could offer a service to create those images and then help customers connect users to those images, reducing the need for staffers to maintain hardware and even visit individual users to get them up and running.
While there are opportunities in implementing and managing the virtual desktop infrastructure, there are also prospects around preparing for its deployment. Virtual desktop implementation will require customers to have sufficient space in place to store desktop images, which means you can sell or upgrade a SAN solution and all its related components. Network infrastructure should be switched gigabit with redundancy to get the best performance and reliability. Implementation of VLANs on a switched network also presents service opportunities. Securing the network infrastructure is important, because data will be stored not only over the network but on the desktop workspace as well.
As desktops become less expensive and desktop operating systems more complex, exploring desktop virtualization should be a consideration for your customers, especially with new recurring revenue opportunities. Efficiencies from reducing the need to visit desktops to solve problems could make you more efficient and enable you to manage more desktops with fewer people.
About the author
Alex Zaltsman is a technology entrepreneur. He co-founded Exigent Technologies and over a 10-year period developed its IT consulting practice. He has worked with companies such as Johnson & Johnson, AT&T Labs, Lucent Technologies, Wal-Mart and Philip Morris, as well as many small businesses. Alex is also on the board of directors of the New Jersey chapter of Entrepreneurs' Organization, and he maintains a blog at http://bizology.typepad.com.