CDW Gives Itself a Virtual Boost

CDW Corp. has augmented some of its hosted and managed services offerings with virtualization to capture a bigger percentage of customer dollars. The Vernon Hills, Ill.-based direct-market reseller rolled out a trio of new or enhanced offerings during VMware's VMworld 2008 conference, held in September in Las Vegas.

The newest piece is a disaster-recovery offering called the Remote Backup Service. CDW is using VMware technology in its enterprise hosting centers to back up customer servers as virtual machines. The offering is billed as allowing 24-hour recovery times with minimal up-front costs.

Rusty Wunderlin, solutions specialist for CDW's hosting and managed services team, says the company has been prototyping Remote Backup Service for about nine months. "This is the first time that we're really going after clients with the product offering," Wunderlin says. "It's a great solution for enterprise companies that have branch offices. It's also a great solution for small and [midsize] businesses."

CDW's other service offerings with newly built-in VMware virtualization technologies are Hosted Enterprise Infrastructure (HEI) and Remote Managed Services (RMS).

HEI Flexibility
HEI stands among the growing class of flexible infrastructure offerings. While not promoted as a cloud-computing offering, it does fit into that category, with customers able to purchase any combination of CPU, memory, disk and network services. Wunderlin says that CDW has been working internally for about 18 months to use virtualization in its HEI data centers to improve the flexibility it can offer customers.

That experience, involving about 250 customers, has proven that the infrastructure is ready from billing on up, Wunderlin says. "We have the infrastructure in place for the mass-market sales," he says. "Everybody's in an infancy stage for this model."

RMS Upgrade
CDW has also upgraded its RMS offering to support VMware environments on customer premises or at other data-center locations. The CDW monitoring covers VMware ESX hypervisor performance, utilization and system messages, according to CDW documentation. Other service capabilities include patch planning, hypervisor optimization, load balancing and physical-to-virtual server conversions.

CDW, a Gold Certified Partner and LAR, is a 24-year-old company with 6,300 employees and 2007 revenues of $8.1 billion. The company's three data centers are staffed around the clock by 160 engineers.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.