The emergence of cloud and virtualization technology has dramatically changed the footprint of the enterprise data center. There are fewer new applications being deployed on-premises and fewer still on physical servers. As more applications are moved off-premises, fewer ports are needed to connect servers. The ongoing move toward virtualization is driving server and storage consolidation, further reducing the number of ports used. These trends are reducing the number of physical network ports needed to support the data center but increasing the need for higher performance on the remaining ports. In response, customers will need to upgrade those ports to higher capacity 10 Gb Ethernet.
Virtualization is also changing application architecture, by separating application layers across multiple virtual machines (VMs) on multiple physical servers. Processes that once were handled locally by the server CPU are now distributed across the data center on multiple servers, creating increased East/West network traffic and adding to bandwidth congestion. From a management perspective, multiple systems, tools and manual processes drive OPEX costs through the roof. It’s no longer acceptable to require seven different management tools to run a data center — organizations simply don’t have the IT staff to support this kind of management overhead.
While data centers are definitely changing, one thing that won’t is their importance. They aren’t going away any time soon.
Channel services opportunity
According to Dell’Oro Group, 90 percent of enterprise data centers have not yet upgraded to new networking requirements, such as 10GbE for server and storage access. This translates to a market opportunity of over $8 billion by 2016 and represents an enormous opportunity for resellers and integrators to be part of some large IT projects. To be included in the conversation, however, VARs need to align themselves with those storage and virtualization projects, and they need to offer value to the end user for delivering integration services for the project.
In a world where margins are eroding and dollars are shifting away from hardware, resellers need service opportunities. While some of the dollars spent are shifting from server ports, there is an increasing need for integrated, intelligent solutions to manage the new data center, and recent data highlights the importance of the channel. All of these dynamics align perfectly to support the business models that are most interesting for the channel.
Wanted: right-sized vendor solutions
Resellers face some deficiencies in their line card that stand in the way of capitalizing on these compelling dynamics. One of the challenges is a lack of real integration capability within the tools they are selling. Most vendors’ data center solutions are built for the large enterprise or service provider market — not the midmarket enterprise. This requires partners to force-fit overprovisioned and overly complex solutions into their midmarket customers. For example, the Cisco Nexus and UCS are built for large environments and are very complex, which won’t work for everyone. Since most channel partners are not selling to companies like Google, the channel is better served with a platform that is right-sized and purpose built for the midsized enterprise data center.
Integrating and managing on-premises and cloud-based applications, servers (physical and virtual), storage, etc., presents another IT challenge. In response, enterprises are moving toward software defined networking (SDN) through the integration of these disparate solutions, but there is no defined industry standard for delivering SDN and there are a variety of approaches for implementing it.
The bottom line
Traditional VARs or system integrators are mostly selling into the midmarket as their sweet spot. Now is the right time for them to align themselves with the right solution and services to support the significant shifts and opportunities available in the data center market. Remember:
- 90 percent of these customers have a data center upgrade ahead of them
- Customer size and IT resources in the enterprise market necessitates implementing solutions that deliver on the promise of SDN, including delivery of value-added services
Enterasys provides the purpose-built right-sized solution for the midmarket enterprise data center. Enterasys’ OneFabric Data Center provides integration with other solutions that channel partners already sell like VMware, servers and storage. Our proven SDN functionality enables solution selling and delivery of the integration services that are so important to the channel.
Earlier this year, we announced OneFabric Connect SDN; then IdentiFi Adapt, which brings SDN capability into the wireless architecture; and now into OneFabric Data Center. These solutions support the direction channel business models are moving, and what customers require to solve the complexity challenges in the data center. In the end, our partners are able to deliver an end-to-end, intelligent network with full SDN capabilities via a platform for delivering a breadth of value-add services. To learn more about OneFabric Data Center, visit our solution webpage.
Bob Noel is director of Global Field Marketing for Enterasys Networks, responsible for all technical marketing programs that drive awareness and revenue for the company. With over 15 years’ experience, he’s highly sought after for his knowledge of virtualization, networking architectures, the dynamics and challenges introduced by mobility and how these technologies can drive growth and awareness in the channel. Noel’s background spans sales, engineering, training and marketing positions. Connect through email, Twitter and Google+.