Top VARs place early bet on virtual I/O

The road to the cloud

A collection of some of the UK’s top VARs have quietly become partners of Xisgo, a provider of virtualised infrastructure technologies – making an early bet that organisations will hit a connectivity bottleneck as they scale virtualised environments.

Although a relatively unknown brand, Xisgo has signed up Fujitsu Services, Dell, Computacenter, SCC and Kelway and a further 10 specialist partners across EMEA. In terms of distribution, the firm has had Zycko since 2008 and has announced an expanded agreement with Arrows ECS that will extend its footprint across Europe.

The firm ramped up its channel approach with the appointment of Michelle Humpreys as EMEA business development director, earlier this year. Humpreys, formally a respected channel manager at VMware, says that the 15 strong channel is likely to stay as it is: “We’ve placed the bets that will take us to market,” she says, adding the firm is in discussion with BT Engage to address the telco market, “although that not a priority at the moment.”

“We haven’t gone for a commodity play, we have three to five partners across each country,” explains Humpreys. The channel boss is not looking for any more big players although she is keen to recruit “vertical specialists” that understand niche markets: “We are always looking for these guys,” she adds.

“Our margins are amazing on these products,” she continues. Although not drawn, around 40 percent seems a likely number. The firm is also in end stage discussions with SDG as an additional distributor and is currently running a pilot.

Xisgo provides a platform to allow IO to be virtualised between servers using 10Gb Ethernet and Infiniband. The firm claims that its solution, unlike rivals such as HP, is hardware vendor agnostic and has been certified against VMware, Microsoft, Citrix and Oracle hypervisor technology.

Humpreys believes that the initial interest from VARs is based on a growing realisation that I/O is becoming a bottleneck for large scale virtualisation.

Channel Pro comment:

At first glance, the fact that a relatively niche player has established a channel of 15 partners across Europe might elicit a “so what?” response. But when you consider that the four largest partners have turnover in excess of £1.5bn, the rational as to why they are jumping on board is interesting to consider. Speaking to Jon Toor, VP of marketing for the firm, it’s clear that it believes it sits in an area with little serious competition. As firms start to migrate heavy apps into virtual environments, they hit the wall of I/O inflexibility caused by the underlying hardware and turn to firms like Xisgo.

Typical deals start at £150,000 but as the environment grows, there is additional revenue from host cards and ongoing software licences. More importantly, it embeds any partner that sells one of these solutions right in the heart of ant virtualisation project for the long term. Niche, maybe. Relevant to the channel – almost certainly.