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Ingram Micro VentureTech Network event highlights economic survival

Ingram Micro VentureTech Network conference attendees will discuss weathering the economy.

The economy will be on attendees' minds at Ingram Micro's VentureTech Network (VTN) Fall Invitational event, which kicks off today and is expected to draw 700 solution providers to San Diego.

Members of VTN, the association of Ingram partners that formed a decade ago to bolster small and medium-sized value-added resellers (VARs), will do what they always do at these events: discuss new technologies, hear from leading vendor channel execs and share best practices. But they'll do all that with the understanding that everyone's focus is on surviving the economic downturn.

"Everybody is curious how vendors and distributors are looking at and evaluating the economy, what will happen with credit lines and what customers are going to do," said Greg Starr, COO of Ingram partner I.T. Works in Houston.

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"We want to hear what those guys see happening and how they are planning, so that helps us understand what we need to do."

Ingram Micro has already assured partners that the credit crunch will not affect its business.

"Credit lines [for partners] are not an issue right now," said Kirk Robinson, vice president of channel marketing at Ingram Micro North America. "We are also doing a lot more leasing to the end user and bringing other new programs to help the resellers out."

Ingram will spend its airtime at the conference helping partners understand how to remain stable at a time when their customers might not have credit and the markets swing wildly.

"A lot of the conversation will be about how, even in a down market, there are markets of opportunities," Robinson said. "Most of us have been through an economic downturn, or two or three. As we've seen in the past, the decisions you make in a down economy are going to determine the level of success."

To that end, one of the new additions to this VentureTech Network show will be a technology fair that features full solutions formed through product integration. Ingram said many of those solutions are core necessities that will hold strong during a rough economy. Among them are disaster recovery, secure networking and point-of-sale/data capture technology. Other solutions presented will focus on technologies that are niche, but have good margins, such as digital signage, Robinson said.

VARs will also hear from Ingram Micro CEO Greg Spierkel and COO Alain Monie, who will host a dialogue based on questions received from the VTN council. In addition, a number of channel executives from major vendors will speak, including Cisco Systems' Wendy Bahr, Hewlett-Packard's Ramona Thibeault, IBM's Harris Warsaw and Microsoft's Robert Deshaies.

VentureTech Network sessions will address newer technology trends that sometimes are challenging to partners, including social software, Web 2.0, data management and everybody's favorite, cloud computing.

"Cloud computing is getting cloudier every day," Robinson said, referring to all of the different explanations of the technology and multiple business models.

"Some people say, where there is mystery there is margin," but that may not be the case just yet with cloud computing, he added.

Ingram will also have a breakout session to discuss its owned managed services program, Seismic.

"Seismic is great because you don't have to invest $20,000 or $50,000 in the products up front just to get in," Starr said. "You buy just what you need for the clients."

The VTN conference will come to a close Friday.

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