The "do it yourself" mentality of South African businesses is putting a dampener on virtualisation.
So says Herman van Heerden, MD of Starship Systems,who says: "When it comes to IT, South African companies have traditionally had the notion that DIY is best, otherwise call the supplier. This is evident with virtualisation. Companies are waking up to the concept of virtualisation. They want to give a try but don't go the distance with a third party expert before they dive in.
"The result of this DIY approach is that their first experience with virtualisation is lacklustre purely because they don't have the know-how to implement the technology properly or exploit it to the maximum to get maximum benefit. In some cases, the experience can be so lacklustre that virtualisation gets a bad wrap and is ultimately shelved. But, as the old adage goes; 'a bad workman blames his tools'.
"When they do call for help, the first point of call is typically the supplier, mainly because companies doubt that anyone other than the maker of the software can assist. This in turn makes it difficult for other 'non-branded' consultants to distinguish themselves and hampers innovation."
Van Heerden says the skills required to set-up a virtual environment are quite different from those needed to manage it and few, if any, South African companies have the required skill-sets to do both within their ranks- especially since virtualisation is a relatively new concept.
As such, he says it makes sense for companies to outsource the implementation to a third party expert in this field rather than leaving internal staff with scant virtualisation experience to their own devices.
"Of course companies can 'go it alone' with virtualisation. But, as with networking or any IT solution for that matter, it doesn't mean that just because you have got the technology that it's going to be implemented to its max and allowed to function seamlessly in a business.
"The main benefit of outsourcing your virtualisation implementation is that you are tapping into the knowledge and skills of experts who focus only on virtualisation technologies. That level of skill and experience far outweighs that of an internal employee who has dabbled with virtualisation or a supplier that merely peddles the solution.
"Virtualisation consultants will usually provide training on the utilisation and management of virtual infrastructures once the systems are in place. There must be a transfer of skills and knowledge so that when the consultant leaves, the people who are going to be managing the system from there onwards are equipped with the skills and tools to do so," he explains.
He believes that in time companies will start to realise that it is faster, more cost-effective and more conducive to the success of their virtualisation conversions to outsource the sourcing and implementation of a virtualisation solution to third party specialists.
"It's like this with any new technology. Take business intelligence (BI) for instance, it's taken some time but outsourcing big BI implementations to consultants has become the norm rather than the exception."
Van Heerden concludes with some advice to companies looking to their outsource virtualisation conversion to a third party: "A virtualisation consultant must be able to give unbiased, ethical advice on the choosing the most appropriate VM solution for your business because an off the shelf technology might not suit your needs. The consultant you choose should also be willing to give you a live session proof of concept.
"Make sure that to check their credentials and ask about previous implementations. Innovation around the technology and business model is a good indication that a company will offer quality."