How Data Center Assessments Drive Channel Partner Revenue

Back when I was a channel partner not so long ago, I was involved in a virtualization project where we took a client from 30 racks of equipment down to three. It was a good deal all around and we made some good money. But it could’ve been better.

While we dramatically reduced the IT load in the customer’s data center, the customer left all the existing UPS and cooling infrastructure. As a result, the customer had lots of excess cooling capacity – and electric bills that far exceeded what they needed to be. It would’ve been a better deal all around if we had been able to convince the customer to replace the power and cooling infrastructure with newer, modular units that fit the new IT load. It probably would’ve saved the customer around $6,000 per month on energy bills, and my company would’ve had a bigger sale.

At APC by Schneider Electric we have a simple strategy to ensure that our partners and customers don’t let that happen to them. It’s called a data center assessment and here’s how it works.

Typically two Schneider Electric engineers do a walk-through of the customer’s data center looking for ways to increase energy efficiency. They’ll take various measurements to assess airflow and cooling effectiveness, and make note of simple fixes such as where blanking panels can be installed to improve cooling.

The engineers come back with a detailed report with advice and suggestions on how the customer can improve energy efficiency. Some of these may be simple things, like the blanking panels, while others may be wholesale infrastructure improvements – such as installing modular power and cooling systems to right-size the capacity to new, virtualized IT loads. Such systems will lower the customer’s electric bill – sometimes dramatically – and thus provide a rapid return on investment.

For partners, these assessments provide multiple benefits. For one, you position yourself as a trusted expert and advisor in the eyes of your customer, helping them reduce operating expenses through better energy efficiency. What’s more, you can get some big sales. In general, our partners see revenue pull-through of about 10 times the cost of a data center assessment. In other words, if the assessment costs $10,000, you’ll likely sell about $100,000 worth of equipment.

While you can often sell the customer on such a deal based on energy savings alone, the story often gets even better. In many areas, electric utility companies offer rebates of as much as 50% on the cost of energy efficient equipment such as computer room air conditioners (CRAC) and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). Some companies also offer rebates on every server you virtualize. (Check out this blog post for more details.)

As an example, we were able to get one of our customers in Rhode Island a $150,000 rebate from National Grid on a $300,000 data center upgrade. Just think about how much easier that sale became.

Keep an eye out for a series of events Schneider Electric will be holding for partners across the country talking about assessments and other offerings that all have proven ROI, so they’ll pay for themselves in short order. We think you’ll be excited to pitch them to your customers.

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