XChange Solution Provider 2011: Scenes From Day One

Welcome To XChange!

Everything Channel opened its annual XChange Solution Provider conference at the Dolphin Resort in Walt Disney World, Florida, on Sunday, bringing together hundreds of VARs and IT vendor executives for four days of meetings and networking. Pictured here, a view from a Dolphin Resort window shows a Swan boat glides in front of the Swan Resort. Check out what's happened so far.

Microsoft Challenges VMware On Virtualization

Cindy Bates, vice president of U.S. SMB and Distribution for Microsoft, said in her keynote that Microsoft offers better end-to-end virtualization systems management at a consistent 33 percent savings over rival VMware.

With Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, solution providers can leverage a platform they already know, Bates said. She said Microsoft can "very confidently say that we are consistently one-third (less than VMware) or cheaper."

Rah Rah Rah, Sis Boom Bah, E Fol Dah!

Jan Spring, vice president of channel development for cloud storage technology provider eFolder, was one of several vendors participating in the Channel Speed Networking program. Each vendor was given a total of five minutes to present their technology to a small group of solution providers before moving to the next group.

ATEN Attention

In all 15 vendors participated in the speed networking session. Here, Robert Haffner, national product manager and sales supervisor for ATEN Technology (left), addresses the crowd.

Getting To Know You

Lisa Mackenzie, senior vice president of Everything Channel Events, a sister organization of CRN, spoke during the solution provider orientation to introduce the XChange Solution Provider conference and what attendees could expect.

Dell Talks Storage Channel And Compellent

Sean Phelan, director of global commercial channels for Dell's storage and MSP busines, talked to solution providers about Dell's acquisition of Compellent, which closed just last month.

Phelan told solution providers that Compellent, which had been a 100 percent channel vendor, will have a big impact on Dell's overall channels, especially for its storage business where such channel-friendly programs like the Co-Pilot service offering will be expanded to other Dell products.

Board (Room) Game

VARs got to try their hand at a giant game of Operation during the ConectWise demo room. Here, Todd Leidner, sales manager at Intelek Technologies, an Oklahoma City-based VAR, tries not to harm the "patient."

Getting Their Heads In The Clouds

A couple solution providers listen intently during the Cloud Computing Bootcamp which preceded the XChange conference.

Helping Vendors Make Better Partners

Larry Kesslin, president of 4 Profit, offers some advice during a session for vendors titled Understanding Your Partner's Business.

Don't Sell Yourself Short

Solution providers may be selling themselves short -- and missing chances to steal business from competitors -- by failing to differentiate themselves in sales pitches. Consultant Randy Schwantz, CEO of the Wedge Group, suggests that’s a very solvable issue.

Schwantz, a consultant and five-time author of books including ’How To Get Your Competitors Fired Without Saying Anything Bad About Them,’ listed the potential areas of possible competitive advantage as price, product offering, and services.


Prior to XChange, a large contingent of VARs, vendors and Everything Channel employees, spent their Saturday afternoon building 20 bicycles and presenting them to kids through the Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida.

"The kids in this community need bikes for school and work. I'm proud to be part of something so special," said Eric Martorano, head of U.S. SMB Channel & Online Services for Microsoft.