It seems that every vendor has a partner program. In recent editions ARN has detailed programs from companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Oracle and Lotus.
All offer various levels of training, support and information delivery. Some promise lead generation and joint marketing activities. But all of them require a commitment of time from resellers - something that translates very readily in dollar terms.
But exactly how much value do they hold, and are they really worth the time and effort that resellers are required to put into them to make them work? Will the time it takes to certify engineers and sales people pay off in dollar terms further down the track?
For network resellers and systems integrators the need to partner with vendors to gain expertise appears all the more pressing. No area of networking is getting any less complex, and the current boom areas of remote access and virtual networking require greater and greater levels of skill. At the same time they must remain flexible enough to work with whoever the client requests.
Some, like AMS Communications, believe they may have found a partial answer.
According to general manager Dan Downs, the key is in being extremely careful when deciding who you chose to partner with. While life as a systems integrator means AMS Communications is bound to go with the vendor that their client choses, Downs says AMS only choses a few and with these it maintains close relationships. He describes AMS's partner strategy as being a risk averse one, opting to partner only with vendors who represent the top two or three in their field.
Downs has also taken the approach of maintaining only seven core areas of technological expertise, calling in outsiders when a project task does not fall within these areas.
According to Downs, this approach of a systems integrator partnering with another systems integrator is the only way he can assure quality to customers without spreading his resources too thinly.