After attending last week’s System ArchiTECHS event in Philadelphia, I came away with a new outlook on the role of system builders and high performance computing. One partner I met with at the show, Jeff Johnson, co-founder of high performance computing company Aeon Computing, educated me about the role high performance computers are playing in research and development projects for the government as well as cutting edge scientific research such as the Human Genome Project, which according to Johnson is within a couple of years of being able to provide the average person with a specific map of their DNA, which could be used to identify markers for diseases long before a person manifests symptoms of a life threatening disease.
In addition to my newfound respect for the world of high performance computing, there were three key takeaways from this year’s event worth noting:
- Vendor trust Is a real concern. At the event, representatives from Dell spoke to the audience of nearly 100 VARs and systems integrators, and they admitted that the System ArchiTECHS Council gave them the heads up that the group was wary about Dell’s relationship with the channel. I talked with several attendees to get their take on the situation and the consensus was that Dell has been wishy-washy about its relationship with the channel, making it difficult to trust. One attendee shared with me that he’d been burned by Dell in the past after a Dell sales rep undercut his bid on a project by more than 50%, making it impossible for the VAR to compete for the business.
David Pillina, the channel account manager at Dell, and Bill Waters, the senior vendor business manager for Dell at Ingram Micro addressed the audience’s concerns and reassuring them “Not one channel deal was ever lost to a Dell direct sale that was registered through Ingram Micro.” After the talk, I caught up with first-time attendee, Bryan Keefer, president of Technology One, who shared with me that he’s been burned by Dell in the past, but “We’re hopeful that by working with Ingram Micro we’ll be able to earn better margins on selling Dell hardware and enjoy the same service we enjoy with other solutions we source through Ingram.”
- Peer networking is paramount. Every trade show has some networking appeal to it, but System ArchiTECHS attendees hold networking in very high regard. Several attendees I spoke with shared with me that this event provides the rare opportunity to meet with more than 90 other solution providers and more than 30 IT vendors to exchange business ideas and best practices and it’s invaluable to their business. As further proof of this emphasis, the System ArchiTECHS Council announced a special portal created for the partners: www.im-saportal.com. The portal can be used by partners to find assistance with projects from other partners, search the forums for advice on how to handle a business/technical issue, and to make themselves available to other partners who could benefit from their expertise.
- Getting the help you need is easier than you think. While at the show there were lots of great presentations covering hot trends in mobility/BYOD, advances in solid state drive (SSD) technology, virtualization, and big data. Yet, one of the biggest revelations was learning how many VARs and integrators aren’t taking advantage of the myriad of free or low-cost services available from Ingram Micro. On the second day of the show a panel of Ingram reps, led by panel host Kelly Nagel, discussed more than a dozen IT and professional services available to Ingram partners – many of which are free. Panelist Chris Swenson, senior sales manager/components sales and market development took a survey of the crowd during the discussion asking, “How many of you here today have used or are currently using any of the services we’ve been talking about?” Of the nearly 100 partners in attendance, only two hands went up. Swenson said that he wasn’t surprised by the low numbers and added, “I know it can seem overwhelming figuring out where to start. The best place to start is with your Ingram account rep. He or she is the person who knows what Ingram has available and can help you more quickly get the assistance you need.”
If you weren’t able to make it to the show, be sure to check out the Facebook page, which includes several highlights from the three-day event.