Any VAR who’s ever tried to explain how an IT solution works without being able to show it knows what a daunting task it can be. On the other hand, investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a demo lab isn’t practical for the average VAR either. Value-added distributor (VAD) Ingram Micro Inc.’s solution centers – one in Santa Ana, CA and one in Buffalo, NY – were designed to solve this problem. The VAD recently announced a 1,000-square-foot expansion and reopening of its East Coast Solution Center, and it invited its vendor and reseller partners to a conference, which I attended. The new East Coast Solution Center includes more than $12 million worth of networking, storage, IP (Internet Protocol) video surveillance, VoIP (voice over IP)/unified communications, digital signage, remote office, mobility, and home automation equipment. Solutions providers have the option of scheduling demonstrations of products from more than 100 suppliers. There is no cost for the demonstrations, which can be led by a VAR or an Ingram Micro Solution Center engineer. Also, VARs that aren’t in close proximity to the Solution Center can set up a remote virtual demo. “Between January and June of this year, the Solution Center helped our reseller partners generate $3 million in sales revenue,” says Fran Murello, Solution Center senior technical manager at Ingram Micro. “There are currently more than $7 million in additional sales pending.”
One of the goals of the Solution Center is to help VARs sell complementary technologies. One of the hottest complementary technologies is IP video surveillance. According to a recent Frost & Sullivan report, World Internet Protocol Surveillance Market, the world IP surveillance market will grow from $435.8 million in 2005 to $6.48 billion by 2012. Within the Solution Center, I saw a variety of video surveillance solutions demonstrations, comprising Axis Communications cameras and monitoring software, Buffalo Technology storage solutions, Belkin networking cables, ADTRAN PoE (power over Ethernet) switches, and Corinex broadband-over-power-line equipment.
Digital signage was another hot topic presented at the Ingram Micro conference. A study by Acclaro Growth Partners reveals that the financial services, government, education, retail, healthcare, and transportation sectors are implementing digital signage to deliver information such as live and on-demand video to key audiences. Over the next three years, corporate executives estimate that 45% of corporate AV (audio visual) budgets will be spent on digital signage and videoconferencing goods and services, representing more than 1 million digital signs in North America by 2009. What is entailed with selling digital signage solutions? It starts with software such as MagicNet from Samsung, which allows you to connect a video display (or multiple displays) to a LAN and distribute content such as pictures, audio, and/or video.