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VAR Turns Table, Certifies Vendors

VeriStor doesn't want to be seen by clients as a 'puppet,' controlled by a vendor's certification process.

Atlanta-based VeriStor this week unveiled its VeriStor Certified Technology Partner Program, which validates solutions from multiple storage and virtualization hardware and software vendors for optimal use in enterprise-class implementations, said Ashby Lincoln, CEO of the solution provider.

"It helps make sure vendors are delivering the best value for the dollar," Lincoln said.

While many, if not most, vendors certify their partners, the value of that kind of certification is limited by the certification process, Lincoln said.

"The whole industry has traditionally been focused on vendors certifying their partners," he said. "But if, for instance, you are certified for IBM, that only means that you are certified if you present an IBM solution. So it doesn't have as much meaning."

VeriStor currently has at least 35 certifications from its vendor partners. And while a solution provider can easily call a manufacturer and get certified, that should only be the first step in making sure the manufacturer is right for the customer, Lincoln said.

"A partner also needs to go to the manufacturer and say, 'Here's what this means to me. We need you, the manufacturer, to provide a great relationship, and a great value.' And that's something customers really need," he said.

Without certifying that a vendor is right for a partner, a solution provider risks becoming a puppet of the vendor, Lincoln said. "Their relationship with the customers is controlled by the manufacturer," he said. "We think that has to be different. It's our noble cause."

VeriStor currently has certified at least 25 storage vendors for its customers, ranging from relative startups to larger vendors such as Dell EqualLogic, Hewlett-Packard's LeftHand Networks and Nexsan, in addition to certifying VMware for server virtualization.

The certification process seems to be working for VeriStor. The company is expecting business in 2009 to grow between 25 percent and 40 percent over 2008, and it just hired three new people this week.

Lincoln said VeriStor has about 350 business customers, and slightly less than 70 percent come back for at least three transactions. "It's something I track very carefully," he said.

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