2011 VAR500 Awards: Best of the Best

Honoring The Elite

CRN’s 2011 VAR500 Awards honor the industry’s biggest solution providers. With 215 new companies making the list this year, there were a lot of fresh faces among the honorees. Among the new VARs to crack the top 500, 131 are involved in virtualization, 65 have expertise in software integration, and 67 are focused on integrating A/V and networks, among other categories. Overall, network infrastructure and integration tops the list of technologies offered by VAR500 companies, followed by data center services, virtualization services, security, storage and mobility.

On June 14, 2011, 20 solution providers were singled out for special accolades at the 2011 VAR500 event in Jacksonville, Fla. Here’s a look at who brought home the hardware.

All photos by Kim Kulish

Top Technology Practice -- Cloud

Daniel Adamany, president of Ahead, accepts the award for VAR500 Top Technology Practice – Cloud from Everything Channel Vice President and CRN Editorial Director Kelley Damore.

To bring customers up to speed on the benefits of cloud computing, Ahead made a huge investment in building its own private cloud in its lab. The company also created a mock company, an airline, which leverages this private cloud to show customers its value.

Top Technology Practice -- Mobility

David Uhler (left), national director of research and development at Slalom Consulting accepts the award for VAR500 Top Technology Practice – Mobility from CRN Editor/News Steven Burke.

Slalom created an interactive site that gave Coca-Cola Enterprises the ability to host video-on-demand and social networking. The company has also helped Coke move into cloud services and built an iPad app that used multimedia to highlight the brand.

Top Technology Practice -- Security

FishNet Executive Vice President Dave Gilden accepts the award for VAR500 Top Technology Practice – Security from CRN’s Kelley Damore.

FishNet has built out practices around managed services, PCI forensic audits and is now focusing on mobile security. It is also building out a practice to secure the cloud and expanding its portfolio of authentication and single sign on cloud offerings.

Top Technology Practice -- Storage

Trace 3’s Jason Aston (left) accepts the award for VAR500 Top Technology Practice – Storage from CRN’s Steve Burke.

As a fast growing VAR, Trace 3 has invested in cloud and is building out an infrastructure around Cisco, NetApp and other technology platforms.

Top Technology Practice -- Infrastructure

The Ergonomic Group’s John Bacci, vice president of engineering services, accepts the award for VAR500 Top Technology Practice – Infrastructure from CRN’s Kelley Damore.

The VAR has been around for more than 25 years, first starting as an IBM reseller, then adding partners such as HP, Cisco, Oracle and Symantec, and others and further diversifying by achieving ISO 9001 certification and expanding into advanced security solutions.

Top Technology Practice -- Virtualization

Entisys CEO Michael Strohl (left) accepts the award for VAR500 Top Technology Practice – Virtualization from CRN’s Steve Burke.

Entisys is a fast growing solution provider that is investing heavily into virtualization and has doubled its revenue in the past year. Because of its success, the company is in the middle of a dramatic expansion. It started 2010 with 52 employees, now has 78, and hoping to surpass the 100-employee mark by the end of the year. It has a thriving Microsoft partnership with expertise in server virtualization and recently launched a Cisco UCS practice.

Top Technology Practice -- Networking

Tom Hinds, president and COO of Business Communications Inc. accepts the award for VAR500 Top Technology Practice – Networking from CRN’s Kelley Damore.

BCI grew its business on bundled infrastructure sales with a particular emphasis on VMWare, followed by networking, storage, disaster recovering and now cloud. The company, on target to grow at 30 percent, has invested heavily in a new data center breaking ground in a few weeks.

Top Technology Practice -- Managed Service Provider

Dan Sottile (left), CMO of Long View Systems, accepts the award for VAR500 Top Technology Practice – Managed Service Provider from CRN’s Steve Burke.

This 850-person VAR has doubled its revenue a few times over. The approach: Thinking about the platform as the enabler and then building services and solutions that are as flexible as possible on top of it. Another reason for their success: They focus on the business unit leaders, not just the IT department.

Top Technology Practice -- Carrier Service Provider

Rick Parker, vice president of Carousel, accepts the award for VAR500 Top Technology Practice – Carrier Service Provider from CRN’s Kelley Damore.

While this perennial VAR500 company is perhaps best known as an Avaya-centric UC, collaboration and voice powerhouse, it is continuing to expand its footprint into adjacent markets such as security, virtualization, video, wireless networking and managed services.

And another growth area for this VAR: carrier services where the company has more than 30 partnerships and has doubled its business in the past year.

Top Vertical Practice -- Government

Intelligent Decisions Director of Partnership Alliances Veronica Morgan-McHenry accepts the award for VAR500 Top Vertical Practice – Government from CRN’s Steve Burke.

Intelligent Decisions has been around for more than two decades, first starting as a hardware reseller focused on the federal government. Today, the VAR has a 44,000 square foot manufacturing and integration facility with a plan to offer an even larger facility that includes a state of the art lab.

Top Vertical Practice -- Health Care

Technologent’s Luis Diaz, director of Southeast technical sales, accepts the award for VAR500 Top Vertical Practice – Health Care from CRN’s Kelley Damore.

With numerous compliance mandates and federal regulations, such as HIPAA and EMR, coming to the forefront, Technologent found its niche in tailoring its data center strategies to meet the specific healthcare customer needs. And the need is storage which grew 50 percent during the last quarter. In the next year this solution provider will look to expand its e-discovery, business analytics and business intelligence expertise.

Top Vertical Practice -- Education

Mainline Information Systems’ Jim Houston (left), vice president of sales, accepts the award for VAR500 Top Vertical Practice – Education from CRN’s Steve Burke.

Mainline has focused on building a broad and deep technical bench, earning it an elite virtualization designation as the Global Desktop Virtualization Partner of the Year from VMware, and other accolades from vendors including Red Hat, Novell and IBM.

Top Vertical Practice -- Financial Services

Gotham’s Chris Passaretti, equity partner and sales director, accepts the award for VAR500 Top Vertical Practice – Financial Services from CRN’s Kelley Damore.

Gotham has become a leading supplier of desktop virtualization services, particularly to financial services companies. Today because of its expertise it found itself running into major systems integrators such as CSC and IBM Global Services. In a bold move this vendor and six other consulting companies of a similar size established a consortium called M7 Global Partners to bid for global virtual desktop and application delivery.

Top Vertical Practice -- Retail

Tom Adams (left), managing director of IT services at Axispoint, accepts the award for VAR500 Top Vertical Practice – Retail from CRN’s Steve Burke.

Founded in 1994, Axispoint has built a healthy services business around cloud, virtualization, mobility, application development and unified communications.

This VAR Provided Gucci with a secure and pervasive wireless voice solution – in Manhattan no less where there is significant radio frequency bleed and interference. This solution met the aesthetic needs of the luxury client and the demands of PCI compliance.

Top Services Sales Growth

Datalink’s Suzanne Gallagher (right), senior vice president of marketing and partner alliances accepts the award for VAR500 Top Services Sales Growth from CRN’s Kelley Damore.

Datalink has moved from providing storage to offering complete data center infrastructure solutions. As a result of its shift, this VAR has become a services superstar seeing massive growth, 65.2 percent, in virtualization and cloud computing. This VAR has 300 employees, 130 of which are engineers and has a portfolio of over 100 brands. It has created its own reference architecture and recently launched a virtualization and cloud-readiness practice yet continues with its storage roots offering backup, archiving, disaster recovery and business continuity.

Best Partnership

George Pashardis (left), regional vice president of sales at ePlus, accepts the award for VAR500 Best Partnership from CRN’s Steve Burke.

With practices and partnerships with HP, Oracle, NetApp, Apple, just to name a few, ePlus knows how to evolve and work successfully with vendors. The VAR recently made some acquisitions to expand its portfolio, strengthening its unified communications and video conferencing solutions as well as its security practice.

Business Transformation

Chris Pyle, CEO of Champions Solutions Group, accepts the VAR500 Business Transformation award from CRN’s Kelley Damore.

Founded in 1979, Champions jumped on the cloud bandwagon early on and today has brought 75 different clients to the public cloud. And it uses the very technology it sells to its customers. The company has moved to the cloud, saving as much as $10,000 per month. What’s more, currently Champions is 70 percent finished with migrating to virtual desktops so they can embrace the various tablets hitting the market today.

Executive Of The Year

Terry Flood, CEO of Logicalis, accepts the award for VAR500 Executive Of the Year from CRN’s Kelley Damore.

This former certified public accountant and one-time CFO didn’t blink when the economic downturn walloped the industry. Instead he doubled down making big investments in cloud and healthcare sales training.

Under his steady hand, Logicalis ended 2010 with an impressive 29 percent increase in sales to $1.1 billion making it the 25th largest solution provider in the country.

Company of the Year

Joe Mertens (left), president of Sirius Computer Solutions, accepts the award for VAR500 Company of the Year from CRN’s Steve Burk.

This 31-year old VAR has undergone a radical transformation that has put it at the vanguard of the cloud computing revolution. The biggest bang came last year with its $350M acquisition allowing it to extend its middleware software skills and vertical industry expertise with a robust network operations center with storage and server capacity on demand and managed services muscle that provides the gateway to the cloud.

Recently Sirius became the first solution provider in the world to receive IBM’s prestigious Cloud Builder designation and is one of the few to build a HP Cloud Center of Excellence. This put them in the enviable position of being able to offer world-class, either on premise, off premise, private, public or hybrid cloud solutions for customers

Community Service Excellence

John Convery (center), executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing at Denali Advanced Integration, accepts the first-ever VAR500 Community Service Excellence award from CRN’s Kelley Damore and Steve Burke.

Denali works closely with The Todd Stabelfeldt Foundation to support technology for quadriplegics and routinely strives to take care of the families of its employees when tragedy strikes.

Words of Wisdom From Coach

Coach Phillip Fulmer, one of the winningest coaches in modern college football history during his tenure as the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers, shared words of wisdom and stories from his time coaching championship teams and future NFL stars, including Peyton Manning. Coach told conference attendees to stay focused, know who their friends are and not to let naysayers influence them.


Coach Phillip Fulmer (back row, center) poses with the winners of the 2011 VAR500 Awards.

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