Solution Provider GreenPages Ups Its Technology Solutions Game

The 15-year-old Kittery, Maine, solution provider celebrated its 11th annual three-day Solutions Summit this week with a new name: GreenPages Technology Solutions.

The name change reflects the broad based technology solution provider's dramatic journey from technology product provider at the height of the frenzy to full fledged vendor "agnostic" solution provider, said GreenPages President and CEO Ron Dupler.

Since Dupler took the helm two years ago, the company's technology solutions penetration has soared from 10 percent of $62 million in sales to an estimated 50 percent of $120 million in sales. That razor sharp solutions focus was on full display at the CrossRoads Solutions Summit, which featured 38 sessions hosted by GreenPages solution experts.

"We have updated our name to reflect our technology competencies and our mission in the market," Dupler told the 74 client attendees in the opening kickoff session. This year's Summit, with CrossRoads as the theme for companyies confronted by perilous technology decisions and paradigms that could either lead to boom or bust, is the biggest GreenPages event ever. Last year's event drew 57 clients and in 2005 there were 45 clients. This year's Summit also featured 47 first time attendees.

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Dupler said the CrossRoads theme is appropriate given the technology decisions customers make will have long lasting impact. "Your day to day lives are fraught with peril and opportunity," said Dupler. ""People are trying to steal your data and at the same time you need to deliver great and instantaneous technology and turn on a dime and do it affordably with budget constraints."

Dupler said while many solution providers claim to be vendor agnostic very few are acting as trusted advisers. He criticized solution provider competitors that base their business on a single vendor or only a few technology vendors. What's more, he said, product manufacturers have a vested interest in characterizing their products as the best in any and all scenarios.

"Our broad based technology advisory model and the fact that we have a wide range of solutions to draw from allows us to be (vendor) agnostic and to work for you our clients to provide the right solution," said Dupler. "You are who we are servicing on a day to day basis. Our commitment is to do right by you regardless of what that means to our manufacturer partners. Sometimes they have trouble remembering that. But we remind them. Day to day our first commitment is to you."

One example of GreenPages vendor agnostic perspective: a client engagement with the Cincinatti Public Library which asked the solution provider to evaluate Citrix thin client technology vs. VMWare's virtualization technology to see which was the best fit for the library. Greenpages' solution architects determined that the library should use both technologies because one was better suited for external inquires and another was best suited for internal purposes.

Dupler said the solutions focus is making for a stronger more profitable business given that the services margins are double product margins. "We feel we add the best value getting in early at the assessment phase and working with your teams in this advisory role," he told customers.

GreenPages has restructured into five service areas: Application Services, Data Management Services, Infrastructure Solutions, IT Management Solutions and Technology Procurement Solutions. The technology procurement solutions gives the company a unique advantage given that few companies with a national footprint can offer bulletproof technology solutions advisory services combined with product fulfillment. "We feel we are in a unique position," said Dupler. "There are very few people good at both technology solutions and fulfillment."

Dupler cautioned clients to be careful of who they select as technology advisers. "Everybody in the world is calling on you telling you they have a solutions model," he said. "Not a lot of people can walk the walk and truly advise you in [a vendor] agnostic role."

Dupler said the Application Solutions and Data Management Groups are growing fast. He said a key going forward is for GreenPages to continue to grow its vertical focus which includes healthcare, financial services, education and state and local governments.

Tobi Evangelisti, vice president of solutions for GreenPages, said the number of technology solution projects completed by the company has soared to 250 in 2006, up from 141 in 2005. She said GreenPages is on track to complete 400 solution projects this year.

Evangelisti now oversees 11 solutions architects, up from three in 2005; 8 field engineers, and a project management group that has soared from 3 employees in 2005 to 12.

As part of the Summit, GreenPages technical team set up a Demo and IT Lab in the basement of the Portsmouth, N.H., Sheraton hotel where the event is being held. The hotel had to install four new 220 volt circuits to house all the technology equipment in the lab, which featured 36 different vendor offerings including among other things 16 HP Blade Center servers, a Cisco IP phone system, four Tbytes of HP storage, four Tbytes of Equalogic storage, 2 Tbytes Winchester storage, a Quantum virtual tape library, a wireless bridge network connected to GreenPages' headquarters in Kittery, a Promethean interactive whiteboard and a Mobotics Megapixel high definition security camera.

"This is the batcave," said GreenPages Chief Technology Officer Mike Healey of the Demo Lab. "The point here is to show customers the updated best foot forward technologies of the vendors including beta technology. We want to show them we can integrate it and set the framework for a technology discussion."