Tech Elite 250: Reaching New Levels

Some serious tectonic shifts are under way in the channel. Solution providers are evolving into strategic service providers, while IT purchasing authority is shifting to line-of-business managers. All the while, the pace of technology change continues to accelerate.

For solution providers, the key to keeping up with these changes — and profiting from them — is maintaining and expanding their skill sets. That means staying abreast of the latest technologies, not just on how to implement, integrate and operate them, but also on how to help clients get the most out of their IT to be competitive and successful.

One way solution providers and strategic service providers can maintain their technology edge is by taking advantage of the training and certification programs offered by the IT vendors they partner with. Such certifications not only help secure a solution provider's bond with IT vendors, and reap higher levels of benefits and incentives, but they serve as a badge of a solution provider's expertise in specific technologies and business practices.

[Sharpening Their Skills: The 2016 CRN Tech Elite 250]

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"It's a fundamental part of the business and its credibility with customers,"said Steve Shaffer, president and CEO of Zunesis, a Lone Tree, Colo.-based solution provider, in an interview. "In my opinion, you have to have these to be successful in the marketplace today."

CRN's annual Tech Elite 250 list honors an exclusive group of North American IT solution providers that have earned the highest number of advanced technical certifications from leading technology vendors.

To compile the list, The Channel Company's research group and CRN editors identify the most customer-beneficial technical certifications in the North American IT channel. Solution providers that have obtained these elite designations are then selected from a pool of online applicants.

Take Netsync Network Solutions, a Houston-based technology solution provider that last year achieved a Gold storage specialist designation from Hewlett-Packard, which Kurt Nordquist, business development director, said was key to help prove to customers that Netsync can "bring HP's entire portfolio of world-class solutions to meet their long-term technological goals."

Zunesis, meanwhile, invests heavily in certifications from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, VMware, Microsoft and Citrix Systems, among others. About 20 of Zunesis' 25 employees are in sales and engineering and each one holds certifications from at least three IT vendors, Shaffer said.

Along with the credibility such certifications brings to Zunesis with customers and prospects, Shaffer said his company is eligible for bigger up-front discounts and back-end rebates from key vendors. There is a cost, of course: "We count on our engineers being away for training three weeks out of every year," he said.

This year 73 solution providers (more than 29 percent) are new to the Tech Elite 250.

Check out a snapshot of 25 solution providers here as a sample of the Tech Elite 250 along with highlights of the certifications they hold. The complete list is available for purchase by contacting Laurie Condon on the East Coast ([email protected]) or Nora Uriarte on the West Coast ([email protected]).