Westcon Opens New Training Center For Data Center, Virtualization Solutions

Westcon Group today is opening its first U.S.-based training facility, a place where solution providers can learn about the newest data center technology and build and test solutions for themselves or their end user customers.

The distributor's LEAP Center (Learn, Experience, Architect and Plan) is modeled after a similar center opened last month in Belgium and will be followed by several others in what eventually will be a 10-figure investment by Westcon, said Dean Douglas, CEO of the Tarrytown-based company.

"In everything we do, we like to see an increased close rate for customers. [The LEAP center] helps them sell more product. in this case, for them it also accelerates their education, how to move forward in the marketplace," Douglas said.

Westcon is marketing the LEAP Center as a step beyond a typical demo center offered by vendors or other distributors, Douglas said.

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"We don't think [a demo center] is an effective tool for what the reseller community has to go through to transform from a network-based set of resellers to a set of resellers that needs to address an evolving market around network-based computing and data centers," Douglas said.

NEXT: Replicating Real-World Environments

The genesis of the LEAP Centers came after Westcon's own experience testing Cisco's UCS technology at a Cisco center before implementing it in its own data center, Douglas said.

"Cisco doesn't offer that anymore, but we're trying to create that same kind of environment," he said. The LEAP center features products including Cisco Systems' Unified Computing System, servers from a number of different vendors, virtualization solutions from VMware and more.

"The intent of the center is to replicate a real-world environment, as our resellers come in to understand and get better educated on their world and what they're operating in," Douglas said. "Now they're playing with multiple types of technologies, integrated with different types of vendors."

To fully replicate real-world environments, the LEAP Center even includes products from vendors that Westcon doesn't carry, such as NetApp, EMC and IBM, Douglas said.

"They also can bring in their own work or end users' apps and test them to see how the workload looks as a benchmark excrcise," Douglas said. "Hopefully they'll come away with some dirt under their fingernails, not just demo knowledge, but real-world experience."