If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that Westcon is a distributor of Networking, UC, Security, and Data Center technologies. We do about $3.0 billion in revenue per year and distribute solutions to over 70 countries. We conduct business under two brand names – Westcon and Comstor. As CTO I am responsible for both the technology that runs the enterprise and also setting the overarching strategic direction of the firm from a technology perspective. So, I get to work with the stuff we distribute.
There have been a number of posts on our Data Center Consolidation project and our migration to virtualization. Our journey towards selecting the right platform for us was important on a number of levels. Obviously we wanted to make the best selection for our enterprise from an ROI perspective. But we also planned ahead and utilized the decision making process as a framework that we would share with our customers (Resellers, SI’s, Service Providers) to help them in understanding the decision making process of the average mid-size enterprise end-user/buyer.
Substantial technology decisions must always be premised on rational business justification. The bigger the purchase, the more demand for a coherent, articulate business justification (ie not tech-talk). The learning process involved in acquiring new technology has to be at two levels – what is the technological benefit and what is the business benefit. In addition to learning about the technology and the business rationale, there is the need to actually experience the technology in action. Especially if the technology is on the leading edge, such as Virtualization or Cloud. And, no technology purchase happens in a vacuum. Understanding how the new technology can be architected into a heterogeneous environment needs to be part of the process. Lastly, the larger the decision, the greater the need for a clear plan, with specific milestones, in order to ensure business and technology decisions are synchronized for success.
LEAP – Learn, Experience, Architect, Plan
This high level decision making process became a framework that the channel can use in conversations with their customers. In order to deliver on this framework, Westcon recognized that an environment was needed to step through the four steps of the process – learn, experience, architect and plan. To achieve that goal, Westcon will begin launching LEAP Centers around the globe in the coming months. The first center opens in Brussels, Belgium this week (September 29, 2010) followed by the opening of the Denver, Colorado LEAP Center on October 20, 2010. Additional sites in Australia, Brazil, Singapore, and South Africa will come online in the future.
Each LEAP center is designed to help the channel (with end-users when desired) learn about new technologies, the business value of the technology, and how the technology actually performs in live, heterogeneous technology environments. The goal is for Westcon’s customers (Reseller, SI or Service Provider) to truly understand these new technologies and what the proper architectures are for solutions that include these new technologies. Ultimately the goal of the LEAP center is to create a more informed channel partner who can successfully sell the solutions efficiently and effectively.
Our experiences as an average IT organization showed that our engineer’s “new technology skepticism” was eradicated when they had the chance to work with the equipment real-time. As an example, in the case of our data center consolidation, the original selling points for our technology configurations were superseded with more important benefits once the team got their hands on the equipment. Appreciation for these new capabilities would not have been accomplished without working with the equipment. That is a key objective of the LEAP Center.
Your LEAP Center
Each LEAP Center is a fully configured data center, running hardware and software from multiple manufacturers in order to create a more realistic IT environment. The center contains equipment from vendors that, in some cases, Westcon does not even distribute. Westcon has full-time engineers dedicated to the running of each LEAP Center. But make no mistake about it, the LEAP Center is a center for our customers. We built it for our channel customers. Our goal is for our customers to be successful in deepening relationships with, and ultimately selling to, their end-users by creating greater value to their customers through the knowledge gained in a LEAP experience. We want our customers to consider the LEAP center as an important component of their portfolio of sales strategies, tactics and tools. LEAP Centers will help our customers Learn and Experience the technology, but also be an environment wherein they can bring in their customers to work on specific Architectures and Plans. In order to do that, Westcon has committed millions of dollars in the development of the LEAP Center. Ultimately, Westcon believes that this investment for our Resellers, Systems Integrators, and Service Providers will generate profitable success for our customers, their customers, our vendor partners and the channel as a whole.
We look forward to seeing you at one of the LEAP Centers soon!