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Solution providers say the technical support they get from emerging vendors vs. the larger, more established vendors is like night and day—it's definitely more personal and hands-on. Solution providers get instant access to top-notch technical talent. In addition, they have the cell phone numbers to not only the top technical talent but to top company executives as well. Compare that to established vendors where it is not uncommon to get shuffled from one technical support person to another in far-flung places.
Scott Charles, a security engineer and technology architect at Roeing, a Lafayette, La., solution provider and Premier Astaro partner, said larger players simply cannot match Astaro's unified threat management appliance technical support prowess.
"There is no competition," said Charles. "I know every one of the people in the Astaro support organization by name and can call them.
They know me. But if I call one of the larger vendors, depending on the time of day it is, I get New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, China, India, England. Those companies are so big, you are a number."
What's more, the larger vendors have technical support reps who are very narrowly focused, said Charles. They demand a support ticket for each particular problem. And those calls often can wind up in "finger-pointing" between multiple support or product organizations, he said.
"We had every one of our questions answered," said Charles. "It had nothing to do with being a Premier partner. That was the way their support works. I didn't have to make four or five different phone calls."
Ultimately, Roeing finds a personal touch with Astaro that bigger vendors cannot even begin to match. Roeing is able to quickly get to all the top technical and channel talent and even to Astaro co-founder Gert Hansen. "It's like you've known them all your life," said Charles. "They are very focused on their product and making sure the customer is protected."
That technical support—combined with Astaro's technical superiority and margin domination over the big competitors—has resulted in Roeing moving as much as 90 percent of its firewall sales to Astaro in the past three years. Charles said he learned about Astaro after a no-holds-barred bake-off he and his Roeing team conducted in the firewall market. Astaro won the contest hands down, and it was only then that Charles found that the margins on the Astaro product—at 35 percent to 40 percent—were a whopping 10 times more than the larger rivals whose margins had been beaten down to 3.5 percent by the likes of CDW and PC Connection.
"We're always looking to fill the void you can't get from the larger vendors," said Charles. "That is our competitive edge. Everyone can sell HP, IBM and Microsoft. It is how you take those and add to it to come up with a good, cost-effective solution that differentiates you."