This is an interesting question and a recent interview in The Virtualization Journey for SMBs and Their Channel Partners caught my attention. It made the point that while server consolidation is an important consideration for virtualization, often for SMBs high availability, DR, migration and motion capabilites are the key decision drivers. Obviously, to support these type of scenarios a robust and agile shared storage infrastructure is needed but most solutions require new storage buys or an overhaul of storage and due to cost and performance considerations these projects become difficult to initiate. One solution is storage virtualization software that allows users to reuse and repurpose existing assets to get the job done. Either way, SMBs typically rely on their channel partners and they need trained partners with the right virtualization skillsets. Check out the advice from Bernard Golden, an author of Virtualization for Dummies it contains some interesting insights (see excerpts below):
Have SMBs embraced virtualization?
Golden: I think they have, but typically to the extent that their channel partners are comfortable with virtualization and move forward with engaging with them and inducing them to use virtualization. It’s a technology move; you have to have skills around it, so it depends on the SMB and how large it is. Smaller companies typically don’t have that kind of talent on hand and look to their channel partner. If the channel partner is comfortable with virtualization and has a virtualization approach, then that client is likely to get virtualized.
Are the benefits of virtualization as applicable to SMBs as to larger firms?
Golden: The benefits are different, because virtualization got started with server consolidation, and the notion that masses of servers were underutilized. For small businesses that problem is not as big a deal. The place virtualization really helps SMBs is high availability, disaster recovery, the ability to migrate from one machine to another.
[In terms of] desktop virtualization, for small businesses the benefits are as strong or stronger than for bigger enterprises. The only question is do they have a close enough relationship with a channel partner or someone with expertise to run their desktop virtualization; it imposes another layer of software…
Are there opportunities for the channel?
Golden: I think there are big opportunities for them to offer more efficiencies for their customers. As we move forward…and as their clients start looking for new technology they can help them make the right decisions around what they’re purchasing. So the next thing, when the customer [asks] will the [new] server do x, the channel partner can say it’s already set up [so] you can drop in a virtual machine on your existing stuff, without having to make more of a capital investment. Any time you deliver value to clients [you] will benefit.