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The Best Server Solutions for Small-Business Clients

19 Feb 2015 by Jessica Hall

With small and medium businesses (SMBs) having varied needs, and solutions having varied implications on managed service providers’ (MSPs) business models, selecting a server solution can be a complicated task. Follow this advice to effectively and efficiently select the appropriate solution:

Analyze these 3 tracks.

First, consider converged infrastructure, as it addresses the challenges of data center limits in terms of cooling, space and power, and organizational budgets shrinking or remaining stagnant. This type of solution is ideal for SMBs that would like to consolidate systems, centralize the management of IT and lower costs. Weigh options like VCE, FlexPod, Pure Storage and HP Moonshot™.

The second option is to select an open-standard solution. “A lot of the managed service providers that we partner with are really looking at build-your-own solutions from Quanta [Computer], Kingston [Technology] or Super Micro,” states Brian Schoepfle, manager, service provider division, west region at Insight. The companies that tend to respond well to this type of solution are those that have strong IT backgrounds and believe they can solve the issue better themselves.

Standardized is the third approach. Offering a solution like Cisco Prime® benefits MSPs and SMBs that don’t have strong IT backgrounds. For MSPs with a background relevant to the business process they host, this option is ideal. Consider Dell® Active Infrastructure, too. “It helps bridge the gap between open-standard solutions and converged infrastructure because of the availability of the product, the price point and the mature support model,” explains Schoepfle.

Stay open-minded about possible solutions.

One of our Phoenix-based clients is a company founded by David Trapp, a former CPA. Years ago, some of his clients requested Sage Software, stating that they didn’t want to manage it themselves. They asked if he had a way to host their Sage environment.

“David is not an IT guy at all, but he’s an entrepreneur, so he said, ‘Yes, I can figure it out,’” says Schoepfle. Trapp started building hosting environments in all of the data centers around Phoenix. A decade later, he runs four different companies.

Schoepfle says the model the company used is one that most should follow. He explains, “He standardized on Cisco UCS®, reason being that he’s not an IT guy. It’s a very well-supported server platform that seems to work out of the box 99.99% of the time.”

With a system that doesn’t require a lot of manual intervention, organizations can leverage it quickly and efficiently.

“There are a lot of other managed service providers who are trying to grow their business or increase their catalog of services, and they are designing or deploying white-box hardware or open-standards systems,” says Schoepfle. “While they think that they’re getting a cost savings by not buying the brand-name options, they end up spending more, particularly on the management, the training, the deployment and the support models.”

Take a look at what the long-term support costs will be and try to take advantage of offerings from HP, Dell and Cisco. Your organization won’t need to reinvent the wheel every time it deploys a hardware solution.

Consider virtualization first and then address hardware.

“For SMBs of all shapes and sizes, the response to the right hardware solution would be none. With the way that virtualization technology works today, the hardware platform itself should be largely irrelevant,” advises Schoepfle.

As an MSP, your recommendation should ultimately be in favor of the computing platform that is deemed the most reliable or the one that offers the management tools the client needs and that interface with VMware, Microsoft Hyper-V® or Citrix XenServer®. “The hardware platform that best works with their virtual platform of choice is the right hardware platform,” says Schoepfle.

“But if you’re focused on the hardware platform as a key differentiator for delivering your application services, that’s like saying the difference between putting $1,000 tires and $10,000 tires on your car is really going to make your car go a lot faster. Is it going to handle better? Yes, but it’s not going to go any faster,” he explains.

Find out more about partnering with Insight here.