Thawing Out In Chicago

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I'm in chilly Chicago for a quick trip this week. Before handling a presentation and panel later today about the value of partner ecosystems, I had dinner last night at The Capital Grille with channel consultant Phil Clement, of The Clement Group, and some other folks associated with the local Business Marketing Association, who arranged the aforementioned panel.

Lexmark channel chief Scott Dunsire and I took a moment out to mourn the hockey season that almost was (three of his four boys play the sport and he's also a coach). So like me to prefer the one professional sport that couldn't get it together this year.

Before the dinner Wednesday, I dropped by CDW headquarters in Vernon Hills, Ill., for a tour of its new-ish enterprise configuration center. Admittedly, I'm a neophyte when it comes to these things, but it's a pretty state-of-the-art facility. The latest addition are these cool lifts that lift and place the servers into racks (thus, saving both backs and equipment). KVM switches let a technician straddle two benches and the monitors to control configuration and diagnostics can be ergonically set to just about wherever you want them, including tucked out of the way.

CDW Chairman and CEO John Edwardson admits to spending a bunch of time there at the end of last year, helping unpack and repacks the snowstorm of systems that made their way through the center in the year-end rush.

By the way, in case you're wondering how the Sun relationship is going, there were a ton of Sun boxes making their way through the room when I was there.

Incidentally, Edwardson, who had devoted yesterday afternoon to writing his annual letter to CDW shareholders, said a decision should be revealed soon on the location for its planned additional configuration center, which should be completed by the end of the year.

Just how soon, I'm not allowed to say, but keep an ear out.

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