By Dave Hannon
There's a fancy outdoor mall near our office and it recently added a retail outlet for one of my favorite brands. I won't mention the brand by name, but they don't have many retail outlets, so I was excited when I heard they were opening one so close. ("Excited" being a relative term in this instance.).
When I went into the store the first time, the first thing I noticed was it was clean. There were very few displays or clothing racks, and it was very "open" for such a small space. After a few minutes, I asked if they had a certain product in my size. "No, we don't but we can order it," the sales clerk told me. Hmm. "I can order it too," I thought but continued to look around. I asked about another product. Same answer. Finally, I succumbed to the "anti-sales" sales pitch, (mostly because I didn't want the trip to be a total waste) and asked them to order something for me. When it came to the house, it was not the color or style I had ordered and I had to ship it back.
I haven't been in the store since.
Now imagine that "store" was selling enterprise software and you were "browsing." You wouldn't just order something without "trying it on" would you? If you wanted to compare one application to another you would want to at least see demos and watch them running, right? But where do you find such a "store" where you can "browse" for various enterprise applications?
Well, much to my surprise, such a "store" does exist and it's made possible through the power of virtualization. I wrote a story in the latest issue of insiderPROFILES about how Deloitte Solutions Network leverages virtualization (through VMware) to be able to bring up any SAP system for a potential customer and even do some customization for the customer and show them what their landscape might look like. And because it's all virtual it can be done quickly and cheaply, allowing Deloitte to offer customers more options.
If a Deloitte customer wants to customize or load data into an SAP solution to accommodate a specific proof of concept, “We don’t want to do that in our primary landscapes because we want to keep those solution environments fairly generic,” says Scott Wall, R&D Manager for the Deloitte SNET’s SAP group. “In the virtualized environment, we can make a copy of the entire solution, use it for a specific purpose, and then decommission the temporary system(s) when the project is over.”
It's the equivalent of walking into a retail store and saying, "oh I like these shoes, but wish they came in polka dot instead of black" and they could do it for you -- without you having to buy them.
It's a great example of how virtualization can be applied to business on the customer-facing side, not just internally. As always I'd love to hear from others on this topic. If you've got an example of how virtualization is helping your customer-facing business, share it here.
For more information, read the full article here:
The Power of Virtualization: How Deloitte Consulting Runs 300 SAP Instances on a Virtual Environment