Lifeboat's Ship About To Sail?


Quick, what was the name of VMware's first U.S. distributor?

If you guessed a technology company with mainstream aspirations, think again. A hint: This specialty distributor's sister division is the vaunted Programmers' Paradise, one of the software resellers that yours truly was calling virtually every week back in the day.

If you guessed Lifeboat Distribution, kudos to you. If you didn't, and you have any interest in virtualization or security, you should take a look at this specialty distributor.

Like one of the other distribution companies, Alternative Technology, that I like to talk to as often as possible, Lifeboat is in its element when it's dealing with upstart companies that are selling highly specialized or complex software (like the aforementioned virtualization or security). Its parent company, Wayside Technology Group, reported net income of $3.3 million on $182 million in sales for 2006,

Not only was Lifeboat VMware's first distie, but it quietly has been picking up technologies that complement virtualization solutions. One example is a security company that Lifeboat just picked up this morning, StorageCraft Technology, a disaster-recovery and data protection company that has an OEM deal with VMware.

Dan Jamieson, vice president and general manager of Lifeboat, which is based in Shrewsbury, N.J., said security will continue to be a big focus in terms of line extensions this year, although don't expect the distributor to pick up commodity-focused vendors. Jamieson expects sales to triple for his division in 2007.

Meanwhile, Jamieson's boss, Wayside Technology Chairman and CEO Simon Nynens, is exploring how to add to Wayside's TechXtend operation, which provides some configuration and implementation services in partnership with EMC, IBM and Hewlett-Packard. An acquisition is likely, although Wynens said there is no rush for fear of making sure a services investment complements and doesn't conflict with Lifeboat's distribution business.

Who's your favorite specialty distributor? Educate me by e-mailing hclancy@cmp.com.