Upgrades, migrations - is it all too much?

Upgrades, migrations - is it all too much?

Ah, the technology treadmill, it's a wonderful piece of handiwork! Your average reseller is in the unenviable position of having to know all there is to know about upgrades to network management software, Windows NT clustering add-ons and software distribution.

So just how can resellers stay ahead of the game? Is simply being a reseller of products enough? Or is there a need to provide sound advice, services and support too?

Theo Baker, the managing director of reseller PowerLAN, has taken the latter approach. He sees his company increasingly moving towards services.

The present climate of ever-changing tech- nology and the sheer breadth of products in the marketplace is a challenge which he also sees as an opportunity.

"If things remained reasonably static then everyone would eventually catch up and we would have no competitive edge to differentiate us," Baker said.

What differentiates PowerLAN, he explained, is expertise in a select group of vendor offerings gained by serious investment in training its employees. PowerLAN spends about $9000 a year on training.

Another way PowerLAN keeps abreast of technology is by limiting the number of vendors it represents to the "best of breed" or "tier one type" vendors.

So providing value-added extras such as service and support can help keep small to medium resellers on the ball. But, what about the big boys?

You could be forgiven for thinking the likes of Anixter would have an easy time keeping up with this technology explosion.

But think again. According to Paul O'Connell, the product manager for network integration at Anixter, there are strategies that resellers can employ to ease the strain.

"At Anixter we make sure our sales representatives undertake a very heavy training schedule to build their product knowledge base," O'Connell said.

He added that building strong vendor relationships, either by requesting product updates or accessing their Web sites, is also essential.

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