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Avnet increases storage focus for resellers

Distributor Avnet adds storage to its SolutionsPath programs to offer services and education to its value-added resellers (VARs).

Avnet Inc. today launched a new storage practice designed to provide VARs with services and training programs focused on storage optimization.

Avnet StoragePath offers the distributor's thousands of VAR partners resources around four main areas: storage infrastructure design and management, storage utilization, data protection and recovery, and application optimization.

Avnet sells storage products and services from IBM, Hewlett-Packard, EMC, NetApp, Sun Microsystems, CA, Hitachi Data Systems and others.

StoragePath is part of Avnet Techology Solutions' SolutionsPath practice program, which already includes HealthPath, GovPath, VirtualPath and SecurePath practices. The goal is to target high-growth vertical markets and technologies.

"We're selling storage already," said Kim Hofmann, director of Avnet's storage solutions practice. "Now we're looking at services around training and helping customers assess the current state of their storage environments."

As part of the program, Avnet offers consulting, implementation, configuration and financing services to VARs. Consulting services include assessments in the areas of hierarchical management, performance optimization, impact analysis, business impact analysis and disaster recovery plan preparation.

To educate its customers, Avnet will hold what it calls StoragePath Universities – three-day training programs held in conjunction with vendors. The first university will be on storage optimization June 9-11 sponsored by IBM in Roseland, N.J.

Ric Hughes, CEO of Sparks, Md.-based regional systems integrator Systems Alliance, says his business development team has attended GovPath universities and expects to take advantage of the storage training sessions. "It helps us get smarter, faster," he said.

Hughes says he uses Avnet's services as a "virtual R&D arm" to help sift through vendors and technologies. "So instead of looking at 10 different dedupe vendors, we might look at two," he said. He also credits Avnet with bringing to his attention new products and vendors, such as FairWarning -- a patient records surveillance system that runs on Sun servers -- and Canadian video collection software vendor March Networks.

Like others in the IT industry, Avnet and its partners have been hit by the recession. Its revenue of $3.7 billion for last quarter was down 16.3% from a year ago. But the storage decline was slight, and analysts see storage as a relatively strong segment compared with the rest of IT.

"We've all experienced the economic downturn," said Tim FitzGerald, Avent's technology solutions practices leader for its Technology Solutions group. "Our focus now is to enable our partners to have the best shot at winning in the highest growth areas."


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