Intelisys knows this has been a very difficult winter for most of the country. With ice storms and sub-zero temperatures knocking out services and communications, thousands of businesses are experiencing losses. As I am writing this, another storm is heading to the Southeast, and it’s forecasted to move up to my area. So once again, and over the next several days, thousands of businesses may lose millions of dollars in time and assets due to outages. However, the good news is that many of these losses and hours of downtime can be avoided with some IT and communications services planning. To better ensure uptime and productivity during these storms and natural disasters,here are three technologies to consider.
Desktop as a Service (DaaS) can be leveraged to overcome outages. For those of you not familiar with DaaS/VDI, the technology moves the desktop operating system into the cloud and streams the desktop out to any device running a small agent. Why is this valuable in a power outage? Accessing individual files and applications consumes a lot of bandwidth, while streaming desktop images uses a much smaller amount. With lower bandwidth requirements I can run my full desktop and access my corporate data over my cell phone. So when the power goes out, I’m able to switch from my cable modem to my cell phone and I’m back in business. During Hurricane Sandy I worked like this for over a week. Some of the companies to look to when considering this solution include Matrix, Evolve IP, RapidScale and NaviSite.
Colocation and Virtual Servers
If your customers are still housing their data onsite or in a low tier data center, now is a great time to talk to them about moving to the cloud or a colocation facility. Data center providers such as Savvis, ServerCentral, Internap or Telx can provide customers with highly redundant facilities which include power, data connectivity, and cooling. The peace of mind which comes from having higher levels of uptime due to this redundancy, especially during these winter storms, is immeasurable.
Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) is another technology which can help your customers “weather the storm.” Even if your customer can not move everything to the cloud, a good DRaaS is a sound strategy and a great first step. Companies such as Green Cloud, Windstream and RapidScale provide solutions which enable companies to back up virtual images of their servers to the cloud. Then in the case of an outage, those virtual images can be quickly and easily turned on to ensure business continuity during sustained power failures or when access to locations becomes challenging.
As we have done in the past, we will make it through this storm! But times like these do make us pause to think about and consider better ways to protect our businesses from the impact of unpredictable, yet inevitable disasters. What I have shared with you is just a few ways Intelisys can help you and your customers plan and be prepared for the next big one. Because, in the end, it is Mother Nature who has the ultimate say. We just need to prepare for her!
A recent survey shows that things are looking up for IT professionals for 2014. Many IT professionals are forecasting increased budgets as well as increased prospects for growth within their companies. As a result, IT professionals are looking forward to increased investments across the board– from hardware and software to managed IT services and the cloud.
IT Professionals’ Optimism
The survey, performed by vertical IT network Spiceworks in November 2013, took a close look at the spending priorities of 450 North American IT professionals from various small businesses, medium-sized businesses, and major enterprises. Spiceworks also surveyed their views on how their organizations will grow throughout 2014. So far, the survey has reflected plenty of positive optimism among IT professionals for the year ahead. Consider these survey results:
IT professionals plan to invest more than $300,000 on IT products and services for 2014.
Seventy-nine percent of IT professionals projected that their budgets for 2014 would either increase or remain constant compared to last year.
Fifty-seven percent of respondents expect revenues to increase, and 45 percent expect their company to take on new hires.
According to Spiceworks Voice of IT program manager Kathryn Pribish, “Improvements in the North American economy coupled with aging application and hardware infrastructures, such as Windows XP-based environments, are driving IT spending this year.”
Hardware Investments Take Priority
The “2014 State of IT Budget Report” shines an informative light on how IT professionals plan to spend their 2014 IT budget. According to the survey, hardware solutions have earned spending priority among IT professionals: 44 percent of respondents’ IT budgets will be dedicated towards hardware, whereas 31 percent will go towards software products.
Desktops and laptops are high on the list of hardware investments for survey respondents– at 79 percent and 71 percent, respectively. According to the survey, those hardware investments will account for a respective average of 26 percent and 14 percent of their hardware budgets.
Seventy-three percent of respondents also noted their intention to invest in networking solutions, while 69 percent indicated they will invest in new servers. This equipment will make up an average of 19 percent and 13 percent of IT hardware budgets, respectively.
IT Professionals Focus on Software Investments
IT professionals are also looking forward to software investments for 2014. According to the survey, nearly a third of annual IT budgets will be spent on software investments. Sixty-percent of respondents plan on purchasing operating systems and productivity suites as part of their software investments, while 50 percent plan on purchasing virtualization solutions. Software-based security solutions make up 49 percent of planned software investments.
The survey also found that an overwhelming majority of IT professionals plan to upgrade or maintain their existing applications. Nevertheless, of those looking to purchase new software for 2014, 39 percent of IT professionals would likely purchase virtualization software.
Cloud and Managed Services Also Gain Notice
Investments involving cloud and managed services made up a scant 14 and 11 percent of IT budgets, respectively. Unsurprisingly, IT professionals are staying the course by supporting existing services and infrastructure. Nevertheless, 32 percent expressed interest in purchasing new cloud-based productivity solutions, while 53 percent plan on purchasing connectivity and bandwidth services.
Overall, the survey’s overall outlook for IT professionals is exceptionally positive for 2014. As respondents begin their year on a relatively good note, it remains to be seen if they’ll be any unforeseen events that could shake this confidence.
The road to taking a product from the manufacturer to the customer is a long one. Manufacturers can’t sacrifice precious time and resources to scour a widening market for every prospective buyer of their products. Similarly, customers find it difficult to get to know every product or manufacturer. Added to that are the nuances that go with buying in an increasingly confusing IT marketplace. This is where VARs come in, bringing together the manufacturer and the customer.
VAR as the Perfect Go-between
In the world of telecommunications, details are often highly technical to the ordinary consumer. Since manufacturers are chiefly concerned with creating products, they don’t have enough time to reach out to each potential end-user or to have special solutions for every customer’s individual requirements. The next best thing to do is partner with VAR companies that can help provide added value to their products. In the process, manufacturers not only get to enjoy a welcome improvement to their products, but they also have the opportunity to expand their market as well by getting into the VAR’s customer base.
VAR partnering likewise establishes a solid connection between manufacturers and customers, where customers have easier access to product information and the producers of these products while satisfying their own needs. It is a win-win solution for all parties: the manufacturer, the VAR, and the customer.
Why Manufacturers and Customers Rely on VARs
Manufacturers can have more time creating products and improving their quality; meanwhile, VARs handle promotion, placement, and other marketing activities. Product relevance, product quality, and pricing are the main concerns of manufacturers, but marketing is equally crucial in order to turn their products into dollars. Manufacturers simply don’t have the time to sell directly to customers; they need VARs as sales partners.
On the other hand, customers are continuously looking for quality and cost-effective products. Often, they don’t have access to important product knowledge such as design, features, packaging, convenience, licensing, related services, and, most importantly, cost. VARs can help customers craft the best buying strategy and recommend solutions that meet their specific needs.
With VARs, manufacturers can be freed from building and maintaining a costly sales team while customers can have access to information abuot the products they need to buy. It is time that manufacturers and customers alike take advantage of the VAR advantage.
We all saw the now infamous post-game interview this past Sunday.A talented Richard Sherman, who had just made an outstanding football play to win the NFC championship, ripped the very competitor he was battling with seconds before.Twitter exploded with disgust and anger and general “WTF was he thinking”? He had an opportunity to praise a worthy opponent, to celebrate a remarkable game, to thank his teammates who all played a critical part in this greatest of all team sports.Instead he trashed the other guy and immediately lost the respect of millions.
We all work in a highly competitive environment.In fact, competition is foundational to this great country we all call home.We ask every day, how do we beat the other guy?How do we get smarter, faster, better, bigger than the guy we’re battling every day?
At Intelisys, we know exactly who our competition is, and yes, we talk every day about how we can beat them and how we can win.But it’s also accurate to say that we hold our competition in high regard.In our industry, along with fierce competition, there is mutual respect and admiration.We all appreciate how hard it is to do what we do.None of us have gotten where we’re at by dumb luck, or having something handed to us.We all battle every day in a free market that is big enough for all of us to be wildly successful.
I always look forward to our industry events where we get to catch up, swap war stories over some brown liquor, and learn from each other about how we can build a healthier and more effective channel.
Its always fun to see our competition show up at our trainings and drinking our booze and dancing at our parties.We welcome them with open arms. Could we lock them out, blast them in the media, tear them down in order to build us up?Sure, we could. But we choose the opposite path, knowing that while we’ll enter the arena to battle each other time and time again, we’ll always do it as respected peers.
Where we could easily be Richards, we choose to be leaders.And that’s a refreshing take on competition.
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