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Back To The Future: Coronavirus Pulls Enterprise Solution Provider Back To PC, End User Tech

After years of being a leading enterprise storage and cloud provider in the San Francisco Bay Area, IAS, now a part of General Datatech, has become an important conduit for laptops and other end-user equipment as shelter in place orders expand.

Social distancing has pushed Integrated Archive Systems, for years a leading enterprise storage and cloud solutions provider, to dust off its old playbook on sales of PCs and other end-user computing products.

Integrated Archive Systems, or IAS, is based in Palo Alto, Calif., in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area, which was among the first to declare a multi-county shelter-in-place policy for residents as a way to limit person-to-person contact to slow down transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

John Woodall, vice president of engineering west at General Datatech, a Dallas-based solution provider which early this year acquired IAS, said the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has led to enterprise clients now having very end-user-centric needs.

[Related: Channel Partners Share Tales From The Trenches During Coronavirus Pandemic]

"As more people work from home, they now require new levels of security, cloud, end-point access, VPNs, and more," Woodall told CRN. "The list goes on and on. They need more switches, storage, and compute. As a solution provider, we have to be flexible."

Woodall, whose company is No. 50 on the 2019 Solution Provider 500 list, said that he can't remember the last time he sold a laptop before the COVID-19 outbreak.

"There might have been a customer here and there looking for one," he said. "But that's not part of our strategy. Not part of our business model. Small and midsize enterprises and large enterprises need these products. But that has not been a part of our focus. But now laptops and end-user technology are at the top of the list of what business users need to be productive."

It is not an easy shift for IAS, Woodall said. "PCs are becoming scarce in terms of availability," he said.

Palo Alto is in Santa Clara County, and is one of six counties in the San Francisco Bay area of California which was hit by shelter in place orders on March 16. That order was originally in place until April 7, but has since been extended to May 3, Woodall said. It could be extended again, depending on the pandemic, he said.

It has been a difficult time for many in the area, Woodall said.

"No playgrounds are open," he said. "No playing ball with anyone outside your family. No family visits unless medically needed. Construction has been shut down as long as it can be done so safely. I have a couple of friends who were stopped by the police and were asked what their reason for being outside was."

While the stay at home order, which has since been extended to all of California, is not something any objective person wants to see, it is necessary, Woodall said.

"Look at what's happening in New York or New Orleans," he said. "Anything we can do to flatten the curve of the pandemic, we have to do it. Just last week, I had a friend succumb to it. It's real. We're all going to know people who succumb to it. It's going to change us."

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