Work in progress

In theory, the move to software-defined everything makes sense. Software-defined networks (SDN), software-defined storage (SDS), software-defined computing (SDC), software-defined data centres (SDDC) – the IT world is full of ‘SDs’. It seems IT vendors want to move away from any dependence on hardware differentiation and look to a more dynamic and responsive platform of software functionality, but where are the opportunities for channel partner?

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Work in progress
By  Piers Ford Published  August 5, 2015

Dell said a phased approach to embracing SDI makes sense. For example, as network and storage needs continue to grow, IT organisations can add SD switches, storage and other infrastructure, and explore cloud-based resources – as long as there is careful integration with the existing infrastructure. And that’s where the greatest opportunity lies for the channel.”

Meera Kaul, CEO at distributor Optimus, said this combination of education and consultancy will be crucial to exploiting SD computing as it comes of age. Kaul said that while SDN is moving into the mainstream, SDS is gaining ground rapidly as organisations wrestle with their data mountains.

“We feel nearly 50% of enterprises are now ready to make the transition to SDS with the purpose of extending the life of their existing storage assets and future-proofing their storage infrastructures,” she said. “And SDDC is red hot – and definitely the technology to watch out for.”

Kaul said resellers can help customers understand that having a lot of software components in a given hardware product might make it software-based – but not necessarily software-defined.

“To differentiate themselves, channel players need to address the customers’ pain points of cost, scalability, flexibility and availability,” she said. “They also need to ensure that the various SD strategies are speaking to each other and not working in isolation.”

While SD offers much-touted benefits – agility, elasticity and cost reduction – it is not a magic wand for resolving all the IT issues faced by enterprises today, said Ronen Shpirer, manager, solutions marketing, EMEA and APAC at Fortinet.

“It is therefore crucial that both the customer and the channel gain the appropriate understanding of the organisation’s business and IT environments – and their objectives,” he said.

Ashley Woodbridge, customer solutions architect at Cisco UAE, said demand for SDN is rising rapidly across the region in response to the explosion of data processing.

“One of the benefits of the Middle East market is that it is a lot more ‘green-field’ than other regions, with organisations not having large existing legacy investments that they need to protect,” he said. “Conversely, organisations here are a lot more willing to adopt new technology than we see in other markets”

“Channel players who have already invested in virtualisation skills and cloud delivery services have a competitive advantage over traditional hardware resellers,” he added. “Typically, what we see is that organisations that have embraced cloud or virtualisation in their data centre environment, or have started the journey down that path, are the ones that benefit most from SDN as it gives the customers the promise of achieving in their network what virtualisation has given them in the data centre.

“With change comes opportunity and for partners the evolving service provider market opportunity is huge. Partners need to respond quickly to new market trends in order to stay competitive, monetise new services and drive optimisation while continuing to deliver quality services to customers,” Woodbridge said.

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