The unified integrated computing, network and storage space offers some excellent news to the value-added reseller (VAR) channel. It's a new market that solves real data center problems regardless of the size of the IT organization.
Within this new market opportunity, VARs have four choices:
1. Resell Cisco Systems Inc.'s Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) and leverage the millions of dollars that will be spent on UCS marketing. Few technology companies market as well as Cisco, and good marketing should generate considerable leads or "pull" for value-added resellers. The bad news is that margins will be slim and channel conflict potential is quite high.
2. Resell Hewlett-Packard (HP) Co.'s HP BladeSystem Matrix with its broad portfolio of products and services. Few large vendors are as channel friendly as HP with its history of excellent support. HP's name should spur demand and create pull for VARs. But big names usually mean small margins.
3. Resell InteliCloud Inc.'s 360 with its ability to solve more problems for reduced cost, rack space and floor space, as well as less power and cooling. High innovation and low costs will provide a technical edge in most opportunities. The breadth of data center problems that InteliCloud 360 solves, its flexibility and low costs means more potential opportunities. Margins will be relatively high. Unfortunately, a startup's credibility is low, its marketing programs tend to be weak and lead generation is inconsistent, making for longer sales cycles.
4. Integrate and create a private unified computing system. Most of the piece parts are available, including blade server systems, integrated network Ethernet switches, integrated Fibre Channel (FC) storage switches, converged IO switches (InfiniBand) with gateways to FC and Ethernet networks, VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V and even the Cisco Nexus 1000V Virtual Switch. All service revenue goes to the value-added reseller, but startup and support costs will be much higher. It will require more training, software and hardware skills, along with more support personnel/technicians, and possibly 24/7/365 support services.
Each option has its advantages and disadvantages. Expect more unified computing system options from Dell Inc., Fujitsu, IBM Corp., NEC and others over the coming year as the market takes hold.