By Peter Varhol
One of the most expensive parts of the software sales process can be the proof of concept (POC). Software vendors must assess the prospect's computing infrastructure, send one or more sales engineers or solutions architects on-site, and keep them there for several days while the product is fine-tuned, tested, and evaluated in the prospect's environment. Depending on the software, prospect, and the travel expenses, the POC can cost thousands of dollars to successfully execute. Despite the investment in time and resources for the POC, there is no guarantee that a sale is forthcoming.
Virtual appliances offer a more efficient, cost-effective way to conduct a product evaluation. A virtual appliance is a build of your product, along with any required software and an optimized operating system called a just enough operating system (JeOS). A virtual appliance is deployed as a subset of a virtual machine (VM) running on virtualization technology such as VMware vSphere or Amazon EC2.
In many cases, prospects conduct product evaluations in VMs for several different benefits. For example, prospects can take snap shots and then roll back to them to undo any testing mistakes. Using a VM also means that they can run the product evaluation in an isolated environment that doesn't impact production. Furthermore, they do not need infrastructure administrators to access different resources (for example, web, database, or network). By pre-creating this VM as a virtual appliance designed for evaluating your application, you are able to provide several additional benefits for your prospect and your own business, including:
Fewer resource requirements - While there may be some technical effort in working with the prospect's data and other systems, it will most likely be significantly less than that required for a complete on-site installation.
Controlled, preconfigured environment - This advantage can't be overstated. A controlled environment eliminates technical issues from derailing, or prohibiting, the sales process.
Focused on the product, not on its deployment - Engineering resources can be expended on defining the value to the prospect, not on a complex installation in an unfamiliar environment. In addition, the prospect can have a complex solution running in minutes rather than hours.
Using virtual appliances for product evaluations results in a smoother evaluation process and the ability to better demonstrate the value of your product to the customer while decreasing the overall cost of sales.
InstallAnywhere 2012 enables users to easily create both a virtual appliance for evaluations and a traditional setup for post-sales deployment—all from a single InstallAnywhere project file. Learn more by watching our What's New in InstallAnywhere 2012 Webinar or by visiting our website at www.flexerasoftware.com/products/installanywhere.