The Anatomy of a Solution Center

Solution centers are nothing new to the channel. Many vendors will build showrooms where they highlight the various functions of their product sets. But these centers are a rarity in the government channel--especially among solution providers. This month, Acolyst (formerly DataTech Enterprises) will open its COTS Integrated Solution Center, a showroom at its Fredericksburg, Va., headquarters that will demonstrate how commercially integrated products from multiple vendors work in real-world environments.

The center's three sections operate as independent networks, each with a public IP address (click on this link for a photo) . For instance, the data-backup and recovery workstation in one section is actually linked to a workstation in another section, and all communication is happening over the public Internet, explains Acolyst CTO Ed Payne. Likewise, each of the solution center's workstations is linked to independent rack space in Acolyst's data center.

Acolyst built the center with the support and partnership of numerous and disparate vendors, including Belkin, Business Objects, CA, IBM, Intel, LaCie Storage, Lenovo, Lexmark, Mitratech, Novell, Sony and ViewSonic. While the vendors provided the components, Acolyst designed and implemented all of the solutions.

As Valeh Nazemoff, Acolyst's vice president of business development, explains, the point of the solution center is to give customers a sneak peek at solutions they're considering purchasing--to see how COTS products can be integrated into working systems.

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Solution centers could someday become a viable sales tool and incubator for new and innovative systems. The solution center developed by Acolyst could serve as a model for other government VARs that follow the trend.