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Preparing the Data Center for a Move to Virtualization


Paul Korzeniowski | April 14, 2010

Introduction
Virtualization has become all the rage recently. This computing technique has the potential to help companies reduce the number of servers in their data centers, decrease energy consumption, and lower operating costs. However like everything else in life, virtualization comes with new challenges, ones that companies need to be aware of in order to maximize their use of the technology.

Analysis
Moving to a virtualized computing environment makes overseeing physical hardware easier because there are fewer devices, but the tradeoff is that it also makes running other components, such as software and storage, more complex. Operating systems and systems management tools were designed largely for monolithic servers, so their capabilities do not translate well to virtual environments. Vendors, such as VMware and Microsoft, have been trying to address these issues, but there are instances where virtual system features are not as robust as those found with traditional servers. One challenge is figuring out how well each virtual server is functioning. Performance monitoring is difficult because a variety of applications run in different areas of a server but share elements, such as the devices internal and external storage. With so many moving elements, companies want to see which application(s) may be getting bogged down and where the bottlenecks are arising. Virtual system vendors do offer performance tools with their products, but in general, they provide users with limited information. In some cases, they may not work with real time data, and in other instances, they deliver broad rather than granular metrics. Consequently, third-party suppliers, such as Uptime Software, Veam, and Vizioncore, have tried to fill the void. Since buying these tools adds to the overall cost of moving to a virtualized environment, companies should determine if their organization will need such products during the evaluation process rather than after a move to virtualization has been given the Thumbs Up by management. Backup is another area where added complexity is evident. Consolidating 10, 15, maybe even 20 servers onto one platform appeals to companies who feel that their data center is now being overrun with hardware. While vendors have made progress with technologies, such as data deduplication, backup has remained a troublesome virtualized application. Running a backup application can take several hours on traditional servers. If a company tries to consolidate such applications onto a single device, there simply may not be enough time for them to get the job done. Companies need to determine their backup needs in their initial evaluations, so it does not become a gottcha as they begin their deployments. In addition to technical issues, virtualization creates management challenges. This computing option blurs responsibilities among formerly distinct IT groups, such as server administrators, storage professionals, network engineers, and security teams. With all of these elements running on one system, there are no longer clear boundaries among these different groups. Server administrators need to understand how virtual LANs operate, and the network has been extended inside the host systems.

Focus Research 2010

In order to deploy and manage their systems, companies will need to cross pollinate their staffs skill sets. So moving to virtualization requires investments (sometimes significant) in training. As server virtualization invades the data center, teams within the IT organization have to be prepared to work more closely together than they may have in the past. As a result, companies may also have to overcome the turf issues and infighting, as different managers and groups vie for control.

Conclusion
In sum, when a company adds virtualization features to its data center, some things become easier to deal with and others become more complex.

Recommended Reading
Virtual Conference Speakers Focus on Cloud, Value to Enterprises, How to Get Started How to Ensure the Success of IT Projects IT In Crisis Three Priorities for IT in 2010. Part 1

Preparing the Data Center for a Move to Virtualization

Focus Research 2010

Virtualization Market Guide

Focus Research Information Technology Group July 2009

Focus Research 2009

All Rights Reserved

Introduction

If youre searching for a clear and thorough explanation of virtualization, youre in the right place . Our Virtualization Market Primer is designed to provide business decision makers and other potential buyers with basic knowledge about this exploding market . The Market Primer begins with the most important facts about the virtualization industry:

Table of Contents

1 Virtualization Basics Market definition and key things to know . . . . . . . . . . . . . .p . 3 2 Going Deeper into the Virtualization Market . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . p . 5 3 Tools Glossary, checklists and vendor list . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .p . 10

Virtualization Market Primer

Focus Research 2009

Virtualization Market Basics

Virtualization Defined
Virtualization enables one computer to do the work of several machines, by creating and running multiple separate virtual machines (VMs) simultaneously . These share the computers resources in ways that let multiple applications, operating system (OS) copies or services run on one computer . Virtualization software is designed to:

Increase systems utilization and availability to get the most out of your current infrastructure . Create greater flexibility in the way you use existing hardware across the enterprise, whether for production or
development and testing, creating pools of storage or delivering services to end-users .

Allow you to react more quickly and efficiently to meet fluctuating demands from users and customers .
Virtualization technology can be deployed to servers, network storage and desktop computers . Virtualization is available as on-premise software or as a service, often as part of other services for tasks such as disaster recovery, business continuity or server or datacenter migration .

Prime Yourself: 10 Things to Know About Virtualization


1. Virtualization improves utilization: Most servers operate at far below their peak processing capacities sometimes at so-called utilization rates of no more than 10 percent to 15 percent . Virtualization can increase search utilization dramatically, without degrading application or service performance or availability . Similar benefits are achieved when networked storage is virtualized . Desktop virtualization, meanwhile, enables server-based, centrally managed and provisioned access to individual users resources, increasing utilization of servers and security and availability of those resources . 2. Virtualization enables green computing: Virtualization is a cornerstone technology for making datacenters more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly . With virtualization, you can consolidate applications and services now running on multiple servers onto one or a few modern, energy-sparing servers, and you can configure them to run at much higher utilization rates . Such moves mean that your organization consumes less energy to operate and cool the fewer servers . Virtualization not only shrinks your carbon footprint, it also minimizes the size and growth rate of your datacenter, so you require less real estate . In some cases, moving to remotely hosted virtualized servers and/or storage can make your energy picture even greener . 3. Virtualization cuts operating costs: Fewer physical computer and/or storage servers to purchase, maintain and manage, combined with reduced energy and space requirements, results in lowered operating costs . According to research firm IDC, a virtualized environment can reduce your annual per-user server costs 35 percent to 52 percent . 4. Virtualization improves business agility: In a well-managed virtualized environment, you can easily and rapidly scale performance and ability of applications and services upwards or downwards to meet demand from internal users or customers . You can also provision access to computing and storage resources immediately upon demand and deprovision or reassign those resources as needs change .

Virtualization Market Primer

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5. Virtualization is helped by hardware: Virtualization services can be applied to almost any combination of server hardware and OS . However, modern server and storage hardware releases increasingly add features designed to enable and support higher levels of virtualization than possible with software alone . Builders of chips based on the so-called x86 architecture that supports most commercial servers have delivered multiple versions of such hardware-assisted virtualization . 6. Virtualization complicates application licensing: Not all application vendors agree on how to license their software running in a virtual environment . Some license their products by the deployment image, while others charge on a per-processor, per-sever basis . Before you commit to running hundreds of instances of any application, make sure the providers licensing scheme aligns with your needs and budget .

Top 10 Virtualization Facts


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

It improves hardware utilization. Its a major part of green computing. It can significantly reduce operating costs. It can make your organization more agile. It can be helped by modern hardware. It can complicate application-licensing costs. Its initial cost varies widely. It increases management requirements. Its offered by multiple types of vendors. Its not suitable for all applications or users.

7. Virtualization costs vary: Some vendors price their virtualization packages based on the number of sockets or the number of processors per server . Others roll the technology into a full OS release . For example, Virtual Iron Extended Enterprise Edition on costs $799 per socket, regardless of the number of cores in the servers processor . VMware charges $1,540 for its Infrastructure Foundation software for a server with two processors . A stand-alone hypervisor can be downloaded free from Microsoft and VMware . There are also open-source virtualization solutions emerging, as well as virtualization-enabled hosted services with even more widely varying base and optional costs . 8. Virtualization needs and can help to improve management: Virtualization changes the management equation . Premise-based server virtualization introduces a new software layer between the OS and the hardware, and it creates new objects that must be managed . VMs, which are easily provisioned but often just as easily forgotten, must also be managed to avoid the risk of virtual server sprawl . However, when managed well, virtualization can ease, speed and lower the costs and complexities related to management of the overall IT infrastructure . 9. Virtualization has many sources: Pure-play virtualization vendors, software and OS providers, hardware manufacturers and hosted service providers all offer virtualization software . Many virtualization technologies also originate from open-source projects . 10. Virtualization is not a panacea: Some applications, such as Web-server apps, are a natural fit . Others, such as print and file servers, wont make as much sense . Similarly, not all users will benefit from a virtualized desktop .
Virtualization Market Primer Focus Research 2009 4

Going Deeper into the Virtualization Market

Market Evolution: How Virtualization Evolved


The present virtualization market takes a mainframe computing concept and applies it to the relatively small and mediumscale x86 servers that are standard in todays datacenters . Virtualization sprung to life in IBMs labs in the 1960s mainframe computing environment . It was then abandoned in the 1980s during the rise of distributing computing and has only recently reemerged to tame the costs and complexities associated with server proliferation in the modern datacenter . Today, virtualization technologies are taking aim at server sprawl, islands of data and gross underutilization of systems . Virtualization is also enabling and improving efforts at disaster recovery; business continuity; and server and datacenter server consolidation, migration and modernization efforts . More than 30 years ago, IBM began delving into virtualization techniques as a way to partition mainframe computers into separate VMs that could run various applications and processes simultaneously . But the technology fell to the wayside along with mainframes as datacenters turned to x86 servers to run their client-server applications . The popularity of Microsoft Windows and the Linux server OS plus low-cost servers quickly made the x86 platform an industry standard . In 1998, the technology returned to market prominence when virtualization virtuoso VMware applied it to x86-based systems . In the early 2000s, organizations began physically consolidating servers to take advantage of newer, better hardware . At the same time, VMwares offering became mature enough to deliver scale and performance . More organizations then turned to virtualization for their software development and testing environments . A few years later, companies began feeling comfortable enough with the technology to use it to improve utilization of their business-critical production servers . Around 2005, organizations also saw in virtualization a way to drive down power consumption not to mention costs in their datacenters . Virtualization technologies can be applied to storage and desktops as well as servers, but it is x86 server virtualization that has attracted the most customers . After all, server virtualization is the quickest and easiest way to reap the benefits of virtualization, particularly immediate cost savings . A typical x86 server running Windows or Linux in a distributed environment uses only about 20 percent of its capacity at best . But server virtualization can boost the servers utilization as much as 60 to 80 percent . At this point, mostly enterprises with large datacenters have invested in virtualization, but smaller companies stand to benefit from the technology as well . This is especially true as more and more providers of hosted and cloud-based services themselves use virtualized platforms to deliver their offerings . With the 2008 arrival of Microsofts Hyper-V hypervisor offering, some say that virtualizations time has come . In reality, however, there are multiple commercial hypervisor offerings vying for market share, despite many being based on the same open-source software roots .

Vendor Landscape Summary: Todays Major Virtualization Players


Like any market with huge potential, everyone wants a piece of virtualization . The industry is dominated by virtualization pioneer VMware; open source leaders like Citrix and Red Hat; and industry heavy-hitters like IBM, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems . Other pure-play vendors include Parallels and Virtual Iron . Novell and Oracle also have virtualization offerings .

Virtualization Market Primer

Focus Research 2009

Virtualization technologies are sold as a standalone application, such as VMwares flagship product, as well as integrated with the latest server operating systems, beginning most notably with the release of Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 .1 . The other side of the virtualization coin is the hardware on which you run it . Intel and AMD have designed chips with built-in hardware-assisted virtualization technology, and several vendors, including Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Sun Microsystems, offer systems built on these processors .

Market Trends: How the Market Is Changing


The virtualization market is growing quickly as more and more organizations embrace the technology . The four most recent and significant trends in the virtualization market include: 1. Entry of enterprise players: VMware is, by all accounts, the undisputed server virtualization market leader . Nevertheless, several industry titans have jumped in with offerings based on the open source Xen hypervisor: Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisor (which is included for free with Windows Server 2008 and for which Citrix Systems announced a free express version of its Essentials management tool in July 2009) Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 Oracle VM Sun xVM 2. End-to-end virtualization: Beyond the benefits of server virtualization in production environments, growing numbers of companies are pursuing or considering initiatives intended to extend virtualization and its benefits to network storage and desktops . In a virtual storage environment, separate locally connected and/or networked storage resources are pooled, then divided into partititions, each configured as storage dedicated to a specific user or task . As with computing servers, storage virtualization increases system utilization . It also makes expanding and managing your storage resources easier and more efficient . Desktop virtualization moves usual desktop applications off of the PC and onto a central server in the datacenter . Users have a thin client-like device but get an authentic, individual PC environment, such as Windows . The buzz around desktop virtualization is how simple managing hundreds of desktops can be when youre handling OS patches, software installations, backups and more from a centralized server . 3. Advanced virtualization-management tools: Managing your virtual environment gets critical fast when you start setting up multiple VMs on your physical servers . In fact, as hypervisors multiply and become more commonplace, virtualization-management tools become a more important vendor differentiator and more critical for users . . Virtualization management should include live migration for VMs, workload management, dynamic provisioning and virtual machine templates . Advanced virtualization-management features should soon also include tools to manage application life cycles as well as the physical and virtual servers, networking and storage from a single view .
Virtualization Market Primer Focus Research 2009 6

4. Application licensing and support: How vendors charge customers for the software, including operating systems, that runs on virtualized servers has been a thorn in the industrys side . Even if you have just one server, running and paying for 100 OS instances is prohibitively expensive . Its clear that mapping licensing fees to boxes doesnt work with virtualization, so vendors are beginning to amend their licensing to accommodate the technology . OS vendors are starting to offer new licenses . One might be priced by the physical server and include license rights to a particular number or unlimited numbers of guest images . A different license might allow an all-you-can-eat use for your existing hardware, which means that you dont have to purchase new software for the virtual environment . The Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Enterprise single-server license allows you to run four instances at a time on one box . Novell includes unlimited virtualization rights with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server . Prices can be based on a variety of hardware metrics, including the box, the number of processors or the number of cores .

What Is Virtualization?
Virtualization is a layer that separates logical computational operations from physical computing resources. This layer lets an application function as though it has sole access to compute resources, even though several applications and guest OSes may be running in separate virtual machines on that computer.

Many commercial server virtualization solutions are based on the open-source Xen hypervisor, so they are differentiated by their:

Manageability Support for different server OSes and hardware platforms Overall flexibility Cost

Product and Features: The Essential Server Virtualization Features


Most organizations considering virtualization are first trying to create a virtual server environment, so its important to know what to expect from a server-virtualization package . Server virtualization is generally delivered either as a stand-alone application or suite of applications that you install in addition to your server software, or it is integrated with a server OS . Every virtualization offering starts with the hypervisor, which abstracts the hardware from the OS, allowing the computer to run several instances of the OS . The hypervisor also controls the computers resources and allocates them to the various guest OSes running on the box . Vendors differentiate their products with management and business-continuity tools . 1. Administration applications: Server-virtualization software operates behind the scenes, and only the network administrators will work with it . Administration applications include:

Virtualization Market Primer

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Management console: This is where you create new VMs, start and stop them, monitor their performance, and access real-time and historical views of them . It is also where VMs can and should be reassigned or deleted as needs change, to avoid VM sprawl . Support for Microsoft Windows and Linux guest OSes: Some server virtualization packages also support the Solaris OS and Novell Netware as guest OSes on the server . Web browser-based user interface: This should include point-and-click interfaces for creating and decommissioning VMs . Remote management Heterogeneous infrastructure support 2. VM management tools: Just like physical servers, VMs need to be managed as soon as theyve been provisioned . Tools for VM management may include: Live migration: This lets you move a VM from one server to another without powering down, so you have zero downtime on the applications running on that VM . Rapid provisioning: VMs can be turned into templates for rapidly provisioning similar systems on the same server or within a common pool of resources . With rapid provisioning, new virtual servers can be up-and-running in a matter of minutes . Import and export VM settings: This lets you clone VM settings across different hosts . Scalability and flexibility: The server virtualization software can support 8GB of memory to 64 GB of memory per VM . Dynamic workload allocation: The ability to shift workloads among VMs and physical servers as dictated by performance or demand requirements or in response to physical or virtual server outages . Integration with tools for managing physical servers, to give infrastructure managers and administrators unified views of their computing environments . 3. Business-continuity applications: The greatest side effect of virtualization is the reliability it brings to your datacenter . Now most server-virtualization packages include tools to maximize business continuity, including: Load balancing Disaster recovery (including real-time or near-real-time avoidance of outages and rapid restoration after outages do occur) Live backups and snapshots of VMs Automated process-driven failover to back up resources in response to unplanned outages and during planned outages for system maintenance Automatic restart after planned and unplanned outages

Virtualization Market Primer

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4. Advanced management tools: Some vendors now offer advanced management packages in addition to their standard server-virtualization offering that allow for more sophisticated and global control over the virtual infrastructure . They may include tools like: VM life cycle tools: Like physical tools, the life cycle of VMs need to be managed from when theyre provisioned until theyre torn down . Single-view management of physical and virtual servers 5. Implementation: In general, implementing virtualization software is no different from installing any other software . Many vendors make at least the hypervisor available as a free download . The package usually includes configuration wizards to quickly walk you through the process Citrix, in fact, claims that its XenServer can be installed and running in about 10 minutes . Instead of the standalone software option, you can choose to implement virtualization technology along with a server OS upgrade . In addition, virtualization can increasingly be obtained and provisioned as a remotely hosted service . 6. Vendor support: Again, vendors offer support similar to any other software product: online service ticketing, a choice of technical-support levels, telephone support alternatives and self-service tools on their Web sites . If the virtualization software is part of the OS, support is likely to be wrapped up in the package you opt for when you license the OS . If you opt for an open source hypervisor, you should be prepared to support it in-house, like with many open source projects .

Benefits: Why Businesses Buy Virtualization Software


The modern datacenter is built out the cheap x86 servers that proliferated quickly require lots of floor space, power and cooling . Also, the costs of operating the facility around the clock remain the same even if the servers are barely utilized . So, organizations are deploying server virtualization technologies primarily for three reasons: They need to reduce their operating costs, theyve run out of physical space and/or power in their datacenter or theyre implementing a green computing initiative . (Other reasons include the desire to improve resiliency or to migrate to more modern server platforms, but these can be viewed as subsets of the three primary reasons cited .) Virtualization can help companies significantly shrink their operating costs in three areas: energy, infrastructure equipment and real estate . A virtualized datacenter requires fewer physical servers than a traditional facility, so it requires less space to rent and less hardware to purchase, run and cool . In fact, IDC reported that server virtualization can slash the annual server cost per user by as much as 35 percent to 52 percent . Companies that have outgrown their datacenter space can find a solution in server virtualization . It lets you consolidate applications on fewer servers and reins in physical server sprawl . With server virtualization, you dont need to squeeze in new boxes for additional capacity or add a new room to the datacenter . You simply provision new VMs on an existing server . As organizations strive to reduce their impact on the environment, many are looking for ways to make their IT shops more environmentally friendly . Virtualization can significantly reduce your companys carbon footprint by making the datacenter far more energy-efficient . With fewer servers running in a smaller space, you consume less energy and fewer cooling resources .

Virtualization Market Primer

Focus Research 2009

Tools

To simplify a complex subject, weve included a set of tools that can help you understand the jargon used in virtualization, a breakdown of the vendors currently offering virtualization products and a list that will help you evaluate whether your datacenter needs virtualization .

Needs Checklist: 10 Signs Your Datacenter Needs Virtualization Glossary of Key Terms Vendor Universe

Virtualization Market Primer

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Needs Checklist: 10 Signs Your Datacenter Needs Virtualization


1. Do you need to reduce the amount your organization spends on maintaining your datacenter? Virtualization can reduce operating costs as well as administration expenses .

2. Do you need to contain server sprawl in your datacenter? Virtualization lets you consolidate infrastructure and hardware by replacing physical boxes with virtual servers and combining applications on virtual servers .

3. Do you need to increase systems utilization in your datacenter servers? Virtualization makes the most out of the resources you already have, increasing server utilization rates from 5 percent to as high as 80 percent .

4. Do you need a better disaster-recovery plan? Virtualization software makes it easy to duplicate virtual environments as well as create backups .

5. Do you need to increase data availability? Virtualization can lead to better performance for your applications and storage . It also lets you recover data more quickly .

6. Do you need your systems to be flexible and to scale on demand? Virtualization lets you move applications to servers that supports scaling up or scaling down as demands change with just a few mouse clicks .

7. Do you need to be able to quickly set up and tear down test and development environments? Virtualization allows for rapid server provisioning, which can be done with VMs created from snapshots of previous environments .

8. Do you need to make it easier to update and manage user applications? Virtualization allows you to push out software updates, OS patching and new software installations from a central server to virtual desktops .

9. Do you need to improve security on your systems? Virtualization allows you to isolate applications and give them very granular access rights .

10. Do you need to make resources available to more users across the enterprise network, regardless of their geographical location? Virtualization lets you pool computing and storage resources, separating them from their physical location on the network, and lets users across the enterprise access them .

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Glossary: Understand the Key Terms for Virtualization


Application virtualization: Software technology that allows an application to be installed and managed from a central server in the datacenter while executing on end-user client devices as though it is running on the devices underlying OS . Bare-metal installation: The virtualization software is installed directly on the hardware and acts like a host OS . Desktop virtualization: In a consumer context, desktop virtualization refers to software that allows a desktop or laptop computer to run multiple OSes . In an enterprise context, it refers to software that centralizes hosting and managing desktops from a datacenter while delivering individual, personalized PC-like experiences to end users on PCs or so-called thin client devices . Desktop virtualization is also often called virtual desktop infrastructure or workspace virtualization . Dual-core processor: A processor with two execution cores . Dual-core is often also called two-way . Guest operating system: The OS installed inside a VM . Host operating system: The OS installed on the physical hardware . The virtualization software is installed on the host OS, which shares physical compute resources with the VMs . Hypervisor: The thin layer of software that runs between the hardware and the virtualization services . The hypervisor manages hardware requests from guest OSes as though each guest OS was running on separate physical hardware . Also see VMM . Live migration: Moving a virtual machine from one host OS to another without powering down or disrupting business or computing operations . Paravirtualization: The type of high-performance server virtualization most often used on x86 servers . Paravirtualization installs a thin layer of virtualization software between the hardwares compute resources and the guest OSes . Storage virtualization: Pools storage resources from multiple physical networked storage devices to create logical allocations of storage resources that each appears as a single device to users . VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure): Another term for desktop virtualization . VM (virtual machine): The virtual container created by virtualization software in which a guest OS and related applications run . It has virtual hardware resources, including processor, memory and more, and is managed by the virtualization software . Virtual machine density: The ratio of virtual machines to physical machines in a datacenter . VMM (virtual machine monitor): Another term for hypervisor .

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Virtual servers: The guest OS and related applications running as a server in a virtual machine . Virtual storage: The pool of storage resources created in storage virtualization . Virtualization layer: The layer of software that performs the hardware abstraction . x86 computer: A computer based on an x86 processor, which can support either 32-bit or 64-bit software .

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Vendor Universe: Know Your Top Vendor Options


A number of vendors are now offering a variety of virtualization solutions . The following is a list of the leading providers, categorized by their products and delivery methods .

Vendors that provide end-to-end solutions for server, storage and desktop virtualization:
EMC Microsoft

Vendors that provide server and storage virtualization solutions:


Sun Microsystems Hewlett-Packard

Vendors that provide server and desktop virtualization solutions:


IBM Symantec Citrix

Vendors that provide server virtualization solutions:


Parallels Red Hat VMware (now owned by EMC) BEA Systems

Vendors that provide storage virtualization solutions:


BMC Software Novell EMC

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Vendors that provide desktop virtualization solutions:


OpenVZ Oracle Parallels

Vendors that provide tools to manage virtual environments:


Virtual Iron Software DataCore EMC/VMware IBM

Vendors that provide hardware-assisted virtualization equipment:


LeftHand Networks Pano Logic Quest Software BMC Software CA NetApp PlateSpin AMD Intel

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About FOCUS
Our Mission
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Our Approach
To ensure maximum insight and relevancy, Focus has designed a four factor approach to buyer-centric research . All research at Focus begins with defining the buyer factor . Categorized in our research as Buyer Types, the buyer factor identifies the buyer needs and preferences in a market that make a difference in selecting the right product and vendor . Buyer Types are studied and developed based on Focus interaction with thousands of buyers across a category . The buyer factor in turn shapes Focus recommendations on how buyers approach three other critical factors: 1) product requirements, 2) cost considerations and 3) vendor relationships .

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