Solution Providers: Need For Efficiency Driving Government Market

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Government agencies are buying technology products that will make them more efficient and reduce operating costs, passing up on products heavily loaded with features and high price tags, say government solution providers.

Nearly 300 government and education solution providers attended Ingram Micro's Partnership America conference in Anaheim last week to network with one another, get the latest market news and learn about the distributor's government services.

Bellevue, Wash.-based solution provider Fastbreak noted that federal government agencies have been "focused on the renewing and updating of infrastructure and the computer networking side," said Kristie Pfeiffer, Fastbreak's CEO.

"The government agencies are behind in their technologies, and they're trying to catch up," said Pfeiffer. Hot technologies in the government market are security and wireless, she said.

Fastbreak recently worked with Cisco Systems to provide a core network switch for the National Imagery and Mapping Agency as part of the nation's focus on homeland security, said Pfeiffer.

Federal dollars that are being dedicated to homeland security are "rippling down" to the IT industry and the channel, said Bob Laclede, vice president and general manager of Ingram Micro's government and education division.

"[Government agencies may not build parks and buildings, but they are going to spend on IT," said Laclede. "The opportunities for IT over the next year to two years looks very bright."

Government agencies are looking for ways to be more efficient, which doesn't mean they're spending less, said Sean Burke, president of Goleta, Calif.-based solution provider Govplace. "Their ears are opening up a lot more to the efficiencies of what's needed," he said.

In turn, they "are not looking at features they may use, it's what they will use," Burke added.

Govplace has been working with California's Orange County on rebuilding its datacenter, centralizing IT functions and reducing costs, said Burke. In the past, some of the county's larger agencies, such as Social Services and the District Attorney's office, operated their own networks.

Now, county administrators want to centralize those functions to save money. For example, Govplace reduced software licensing costs by purchasing for the county as a group rather than as individual agencies, said Burke. Govplace has also saved the county $250,000 a year in spare parts purchases, he said.

Govplace has been doing so much business with the Orange County over the last four years that the solution provider now has an office on-site at the county's datacenter. "They need that convenience," said Burke. "This is serious stuff. They can't afford to have a vendor they can't get a hold of."

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