XChange 2012: Behind The Demo Room Doors7:00 AM EST Thu. Aug. 30, 2012
Actions speak louder than words -- it's one thing to hear about how a product or service could enhance one's business, but it's another to actually see it. XChange 2012 attendees were eager to make their way to the demo rooms in Dallas for one-on-one conversation opportunities, detailed demonstrations of the vendors' products and the availability to network with peers (not to mention, there were complimentary cocktails).
There were some great conversations budding between EMC representatives and the solution provider attendees in EMC's demo room. EMC was demonstrating its VNXe platform, which is its entry-level unified storage platform designed for SMBs.
"Specifically, we are presenting the VNXe 3150 with configurations starting at $8,400," said Joseph Catalanotti (not pictured), unified storage product marketing manager at EMC. The VNXe 3150 is managed with a platform called Unisphere, which is designed for the IT generalist so IT executives don't need a lot of specialization around virtualization to configure or provision storage for their applications. "It's all done through easy, simple, intuitive, wizard-based interfaces that are based upon application best practices," said Catalanotti.
IBM kept it classy in its demo room with wine, snacks and relaxed conversation. The company is offering a full portfolio of software systems from information management and analytics to storage management. IBM presented its analytics solution, which allows companies to work smarter; it also helps solution providers analyze data so they can work faster.
"We have our brand new PureFlex System here -- the newest integrated, easy to install, easy to implement new type of computing that combines storage, networking and virtualization under a single, unified management console into an infrastructure system," said Suzanne Little, IBM program director.
Winning the award for best demo room, Buffalo attracted a crowd that certainly supported that honor. It was so crowded it was hard to walk through the room but, more importantly, Buffalo showed off its new 7000 series network storage unit, which has everything needed for enterprise-class storage, and the TeraStation 5000 series, with a brand-new built-in surveillance manager with up to 20 cameras that record directly to it.
"The raw performance per dollar that we are offering in the 7000 can't be matched by any of our competitors," said Brian Verenkoff (not pictured), director of marketing and business development at Buffalo Technology. "On a surveillance station standpoint, it’s a fully managed, reliable and scalable surveillance solution. It's the only solution of its kind where if you want to increase retention or backup, you can just add additional TeraStations and virtualize storage arrays so you can infinitely expand. Most solutions are just made for four cameras and aren't scalable like ours."
Autotask demonstrated an IT business management system for IT service providers, a multifunction suite that includes CRM, help-desk, ticketing, project management, knowledge-base management and service-level management all in one tool.
"What our customers find is that the implementation of a tool like this gives them a 360-degree view of their business and allows them to gain control of their business from one place," said Gary Martini (not pictured), executive director of Americas at Autotask. "Our customers like to say that they get their life back because now they can work on their business instead of in their business" he said. When asked what separates Autotask from its competition, Martini said, "I think the quality of the software, the quality of the support and the reliability of the releases and the reliability of the software itself separates us from the pack."
When walking into the Time Warner Cable Business Class demo room, the first thing one saw is the flat-screen TV playing a live football game -- this is fitting because when most people think of Time Warner, they think of either television or movies. Time Warner Cable Business Class representatives had conversations with attendees about its products and services, where they are located and why it is important for IT VARs to work with companies like Time Warner Cable.
"Our footprint, product set and support set us apart from our competition as well as the fact that we partner with 95 percent of the largest master agents in the country," said Gregg Iuzzolino (left), director of sales for Time Warner Cable Business Class. The company was demonstrating and discussing the fact that it has cost-effective products and services ranging from phones, Internet, Ethernet and cable TV for small, midsize and large organizations.
In the spirit of the upcoming presidential election, the theme swept double-roomed space with election fare including hot dogs, popcorn, beer and old-fashioned election hats.
ConnectWise wants its customers and partners to choose profitability, automation and success, according to Jeannine Edwards (far left), director of the ConnectWise community. "We have a one-up on our demo room competition here at XChange because of our seamless integration to one another --we are creating a very powerful suite of offerings that really represent the life cycle of the customer from the time that you meet them, quote them and sell to them all the way to the time that you manage your own business through them. It's a great way to combine three very powerful tools," she said.
When walking into the Epson demo room, beautiful vibrant colors jumped off the large projector screens lining the walls. Epson has more than 60 models of projectors. In its demo room, Epson showed off its ultraportable projector, an installation-type projector to portray the full range of offerings that they provide. Epson's goal was to demonstrate the color brightness and video image processing, and it had solution providers awed by the extraordinary demonstration.
"Image quality is critical for us -- we use three LCD technologies that will give you better colors," said Sean Gundez, product manager for projectors at Epson. "We also have a great partner program called ImageWay, which will give you discounts, dealer registration program, free evaluation program and House of Worship program [for churches and synagogues] as well," he said.
McAfee displayed its "profitability stack" with both metaphorical and physical building blocks. The company's representatives spoke with XChange attendees about McAfee's front-end and back-end profitability programs for its partners as well as its new Managed Service Provider program.
"I honestly believe that our MSP program itself sets us apart from our competitors -- it is a unique way of reaching out to the end users who are looking to do something different. We are looking to continue to grow on that and become even more differentiated in this market," said Derek O’Steen, channel programs manager for the Americas at McAfee. "Our goal for the demo rooms here at XChange 2012 was to meet as many people as we possibly can and to get to as many different partners out there to let them know that what we are doing is game-changing for us as a company as well as for them as partners," he said.
CA Technologies' demo room strategy included an immense amount of pizza and beer -- but it also provided XChange 2012 attendees with a piece of the IT pie. CA demonstrated its ARCserve family of IT products including backup, recovery, replication and high availability.
"A lot of partners stopped by to talk about the product and take advantage of dinner tonight," said Tracy Balent, vice president of Americas marketing for data management solutions at CA Technologies. CA's goal was to educate as many partners as it could about its products. "The demo room really gave us the opportunity to not only talk to our partners, but also to show them first-hand how great our products are and answer any questions about the demonstration -- I think it was a great success," said Balent.
Ipswitch WhatsUpGold was ready for football season with its tailgating-themed demo room. Being its third XChange event in the last year, the WhatsUpGold team are veterans of the conference who know how to do it right. Their goal was to build relationships and have a lot of fun doing it, according to Caitlin Buxton (not pictured), director of North American channel sales for Ipswitch WhatsUpGold.
"We showed our current version of WhatsUpGold, which is a networking management tool, and a few special folks got a sneak peak at the new version 16 of WhatsUpGold, which will show off our wireless capability and scalability," she said.
Flashback to a '90s dance club -- red-velvet-draped walls, strobe lights and dark lighting greeted attendees at Fortinet's demo room. Once inside, there was a race-car-themed room filled with checkered carpets, red, black and white.
"Tonight here at Fortinet we talked about the world's fastest firewall -- everyone loved it and had a great time," said Joseph Sykora (left), senior director of marketing Americas for Fortinet. The technology that Fortinet demonstrated was its unified threat management and complete security solutions."“We support everything from the smallest customer to the largest customer; resellers make a bunch of money and we do OK, too,” he said. "The demo rooms exceeded our goals."
Iomega's video surveillance demonstration spurred some great conversations. Iomega has a few solutions that can help small-business solution providers break into this market.
"On our Px series boxes we have the MindTree application, which allows you to set up cameras by channel," said Maurice Blau (not pictured), technical consultant at Iomega. Iomega's products can be licensed according to customer needs; it offers up to 48 cameras on the Px12.
"The goal of the demo rooms was to introduce the small VAR, who has never played in this market before, to see that they can do video surveillance on a small scale, on budget costs and using technology that is IP-based without needing tons of experience," he said. Blau continued to speak to an XChange attendee who said, "I never knew how easy this was -- I want to start doing this."