Westcon Opens First U.S. Data Center Training Facility for Channel Partners

Center offers channel partners training, testing, simulations, demos. Debuted in Europe last month, U.S. venue first in series, features Cisco UCS equipment.

October 22, 2010

D.H. Kass

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Westcon Group Inc. yesterday opened its first U.S.-based training facility specific to virtualized data center solutions and advanced technologies, structured to provide a venue for channel partner education, lab demonstrations, customer showcases, briefings and application benchmarking.

Dubbed LEAP Centers--Learn, Experience, Architect and Plan—the new unit in Denver, CO is the second entry in a series that Westcon intends to roll out in coming months. It is modeled on a similar center the company opened in Brussels, Belgium last month.

Additional facilities are planned for Sydney, Australia and Singapore, which will give the centers a presence in four geographic regions of the world, officials said.

Westcon’s data center business comprises a smaller portion of its overall revenue and officials believe that the new centers can help grow the segment by catalyzing sales from partners selling associated products and services.

Westcon’s Comstor business practice is focused on Cisco Systems Inc.’s products and services, and, while the vendor’s equipment occupies a significant role in the effort—most prominently its Unified Computing System Series-B and Series-C servers—gear from other manufacturers such as IBM Corp., EMC Corp. and NetApp Inc., neither of which is sold by Westcon, also are featured at the facility, as are virtualization solutions from VMware Inc. and others.

George Fandos, Comstor vice president, global data center, said that Cisco has invested in the project but declined to reveal either the amount of the vendor’s or Westcon’s total investment in the centers. He said that other vendors also have contributed to the project.

The centers will revolve around Cisco’s UCS technology but Fandos said that a point has been made to showcase what he called the “co-existence of other technology” with the Cisco solution.

Fandos said that central to the LEAP centers is helping channel partners accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies associated with virtualized data centers with the ultimate goal of speeding up the overall sales cycle.

“One of the challenges for channel partners is that the convergence of data center virtualization technologies--software, servers, storage and networks--has made for more complex sales and a longer sales cycle,” Fandos said.

“An important piece of the end user decision-making process is that the technical people have to be comfortable with the technology,” he said. “Through education, training, simulations, testing and demos, the LEAP centers will speed up the time to revenue for investments partners make in the data center space,” he said.

He offered that Westcon intends for the LEAP centers to serve three audiences, namely, channel partner executive teams interested in learning about the technology and formulating go-to-market plans; reseller technical teams; and, resellers hosting end customers for educational and showcasing purposes.

Nearly every aspect of what the facility offers—including education, demonstrations, training, proof-of-concept evaluations--can be accessed remotely, Fandos said.

Enhanced business services offered to some data center partners

To leverage the LEAP centers, Westcon said that it will offer special services--such as business development, enabling sales teams to work with end customer CIOs, advanced planning and installation, lead creation, targeted marketing and collateral, and solution bundles—to a select number of partners who commit to a broader relationship with the company.

Fandos said that in exchange for resellers committing to purchasing a certain amount of product, the distributor will craft a custom business and marketing program to suit their needs.

Right now, Westcon works with about 15 – 20 channel partners in that capacity but wants to increase that figure to hundreds by leveraging the LEAP centers, he said.

“We want to build stronger relationships with mid-level channel partners to use our infrastructure and other offerings in whatever way that makes sense for them,” he said.

TAGS: virtualization,data center,Cisco,Westcon,Comstor

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