Keen to live up to its motto - "the centre for advanced networking" - distributor Westcon is about to launch a series of Internet-based training courses designed to keep its resellers up-to-date.
According to Westcon's president, Roman Michalowski, training is an important aspect of Westcon. The distributor operates a training subsidiary in the US, teaching programs from Microsoft, Novell, Bay Networks and other vendors.
"This company provides training in a traditional instructor lead format, but they also have introduced Internet-based training courses," said Michalowski. "We have developed a similar program that we are going to make available worldwide."
The first course is to be taught at the beginning of August, and will focus on Bay Networks' hub products. Courses on a range of networking topics will follow.
Michalowski said online training adds extra dimensions to traditional computer-based training (CBT). The aim is to allow students to learn through self-training, but with an interactive aspect that traditional CBT packages can't provide.
"If you elect to purchase a CBT course you are really restricted to what's on the CD-ROM," said Michalowski. "In our case the course is a combination of computer-based training, chat room facilities where students can interact with the instructor and other students, and weekly conference calls."
Michalowski says this style of training is ideally suited to resellers that wish to keep their skill sets up to date, but can't afford to have staff away on training programs. "We want to make sure they don't spend more time than necessary to get to the point that they know the product line well enough to support it according to Bay Networks' standards. So, we're providing one of the tools for a specialist to elevate their level of expertise, and achieve the certification."
Westcon has also instituted a local training program for its Australian resellers, in support of its Connectivity VAR Program. So far a handful of Platinum and less than 20 Gold partners have signed to the program. "It's not going to be something where we are just going to join people up for the sake of it, it is a question of earning it," said Michalowski.
As for the Australian operation itself, Michalowski said Westcon now has all the relevant management staff in place to run the operation, despite the recent loss of three staff members.
"Over the last couple of months we have pretty much made the transition to make this office autonomous," he said. "We have built the infrastructure and the management structure, and we have all the necessary managers to run all the functional areas.
Technical services manager Duncan Craven said Westcon has appointed a staff member in Western Australia, and is now seeking representation in Melbourne and Brisbane.