For more years than anyone cares to remember, companies such as Hewlett-Packard have been putting a special emphasis on getting customers to buy their entire portfolio of products. Nothing annoys a senior executive at a vendor, especially at HP, more than to discover that a customer bought their servers or PCs but opted for some other vendor's printer or storage gear.
Companies such as HP have had mixed success when it comes to 'attaching' their full portfolio of products to any given sale. This is because most customers tend to buy different types of IT equipment at different times and frequently through different channels. HP and other vendors have been making an economic argument about why customers should pool their purchasing dollars around a single vendor.
But with the advent of virtualization, it looks like that economic argument is soon going to be bolstered by a technical one. HP today rolled out a raft of products under a "Just Right IT" campaign aimed at small to medium-sized business customers, with special emphasis on buying servers, storage and virtualization management software as one complete package. As virtualization evolves, it's becoming clear that server and storage technology management is converging. HP is making the argument that this convergence will manifest itself in the SMB sector first, where IT staffs are always short-handed and have little time to master a particular IT specialty. Instead, those customers, notes Lisa Wolfe, worldwide small and midsize business leader for HP, want something comprehensive that is easy to manage and deploy.
It's more than likely that this theme will be extended throughout the enterprise. HP is already making the case that desktop virtualization is going to lead to the sales of PCs and wireless networks being tied more closely to the sale of the server. Chances are very high that Dell, IBM, Lenovo, Oracle and even Cisco will be exploring similar themes in the months ahead.
Of course, sometimes the biggest issue in these kinds of pitches isn't the customer at all; it's the way the vendors are organized. Customers don't want to spend their time shopping. They want to use the IT equipment to accomplish a task as soon as possible. Simply put, if the vendors take the roadblocks, hiccups and speed bumps out of the purchasing process, the chances are good that the merits of integrated sets of IT offerings will speak for themselves.