Dealer Sales Corner: VSAN hosted product

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New sales opportunities for dealers. In this installment, Griffin Internet chief technology officer Adrian Sunderland discusses the company’s VSAN hosted proposition

The hype surrounding virtualising everything was at its peak two to three years ago. The reality is that 2009 was a perfect storm for the virtualised world. The collapse of the banking sector triggered an almost total drying up of lease finance for IT and telecoms equipment and whilst that has returned now, a great deal of corporate budgets had their CAPEX slashed at the same time as demanding cost and efficiency savings.

Suddenly internal IT and communications departments that might have previously shuddered at the thought of not owning and managing their own boxes, found that it was the only way to benefit from efficiencies offered by new technology without spending huge amounts of CAPEX.

Griffin supplies connectivity to a number of the leading providers of hosted telephony and hosted IT and we have certainly seen an increasing interest in more reliable, resilient and higher bandwidth connectivity to support virtualised and hosted applications.

What’s interesting is that the take-up of fully unified communications solutions has been pretty unimpressive until recently. Virtualisation means that instead of buying dedicated servers to process information and store data you can simply rent space and processing power from a shared platform in the cloud.

No need to worry about which processor, what size hard disk, RAID arrays, mirroring and back up. This is all done for you and because it’s virtual you should expect same-day lead times and there are no hardware costs that have to be paid back through long-term contracts. Contracts are monthly and since the investment in the platform is effectively a sunk cost, top specification all-in configurations can be rented for under £100 a month.

Many of our partners are trying it out by sending us their Exchange server or shared files. Anything that requires significant bandwidth out to the internet is bound to be better-suited to a network-centred arrangement and if for any reason they don’t like it they can just switch it back – after all, they are only committed for a month. There is nothing like using something yourself to understand the features, benefits and potential objections.

Griffin’s virtualisation strategy is three-fold.

Firstly, it is to enable resellers to become hosted providers. We recently announced a VMWare powered carrier-grade, cloud hosting service. We enable both public cloud and private cloud types of service, that is to say resellers can deliver their apps over the public internet or securely over the Griffin MPLS network.

Secondly, it is to open up the Griffin network to hosted service providers. Griffin is the fastest growing provider of MPLS services via the reseller channel. Our resellers want to sell hosted services, so, we’ve opened up our network to any hosted service provider that thinks our 500+ resellers and 60,000+ businesses might be interested in consuming their services.

Thirdly, Griffin builds and supplies hosted services for resellers. Where we think there is a hosted product with attractive margins for the reseller that we can build on our cloud hosting platform and that can be delivered both into our MPLS connected customers and over the Internet then we will develop these in-house. The first products are a hosted email and collaboration tool (think Hosted Exchange but with more margin) and an online backup service.

I’m convinced virtualisation is an opportunity for resellers. Demand is rising quicker than quality supply and therefore margins in the channel are good, probably 30-40 per cent on recurring long-term contracts.

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