Technology centre features expanded focus, footprint
Along with an expanded footprint, the distributor has also expanded the number of vendors on board as well as the footprint of the solutions on display in the centre. Whereas the previous iteration of the ATSC was very Cisco-centric, the new version features a wider array of technologies from 19 different technology partners.
“The purpose is to be a vendor-agnostic demo centre,” Richard Toledo, manager of technology services at Tech Data Canada, told solution providers touring the new facility. “We’ve made it more interactive, more of a training facility. This is your facility as much as it is ours.”
The expanded ATSC represented a $750,000 investment by the vendors involved, and includes an array of different types of solutions.
The first room, the newcomer to the facility, features Avaya IPoffice products including the Avaya Flare tablet for video collaboration, as well as HP BladeSystem servers and storage, Eaton Power Quality equipment and security products from Fortinet.
In the second room, power protection comes from APC, while IBM servers and Tivoli management software are on display. The room is rounded out by a multifunction product from Xerox to show of document-management solutions, a variety of server, workstation and laptop products from Lenovo, and of course original ATSC anchor tenant Cisco Systems, whose presence includes various of its architectures, including borderless networks, collaboration, data centre and SMB products. Toledo said that the ATSC would also be home to cisco’s Unified Computing System server, which will be used to run call manager software.
And throughout the two rooms are software products. Microsoft is largely focusing on its push towards the cloud in the centre, using it to show off both Office 365 and Windows InTune, while VMware is used to virtualize many of the servers on hand, and to offer a test bed for vSphere and vMotion, among other technologies.
Adrian DiAdamo, director of distribution channels for Cisco Canada, said that by opening up the ATSC to other vendors, they’re able to work with “some of our partners in the ecosystem.”
Jodi Bonham, IT channel manager for Eaton Power Quality Canada, was likewise involved in the first iteration of the ATSC. And likewise, she likes the idea of Tech Data opening up the centre to additional technology components.
“We’re really able to show off a complete solution, which is where Tech Data is playing these days and I think that’s fabulous for them,” she said.
The distributor has also worked to make the centre more accessible in terms of the ability for visitors to test products, bring in their own gear to test with ATSC equipment and run proof of concepts for resellers’ customers.
“There’s really no catalogue of things that can be performed in here – it’s everything from simple demonstrations to benchmarking, poof of concepts and conversion testing,” Reid said. “It’s a chance to come in and try this equipment, to test in a live environment. We think that’s a huge opportunity.”
Reid stressed that the re-opening is just the beginning of the evolution of the centre, and that the distributor intends to continually invest in staying at the forefront of technology trends in the facility, both to maximize the value of the centre and to make sure utilization of the equipment doesn’t fall off over time.
“Our goal is to have one event per day in the ATSC be that a reseller bringing in single customer, a group of customers, or a large group of VARs coming in for a presentation,” Reid said. “We’ve told the vendors very clearly that this is not the end, but just the beginning. We want to make sure the stuff we sell in abundance in the back [the warehouse] is available to be seen up front in a real-life environment.”
DiAdamo echoed Reid’s commitment to ongoing investment in the centre, hinting that Cisco’s presence would continue to be refined around Cisco’s core architectural plays. “Hopefully TelePresence as well,” DiAdamo added.
Reid noted that virtually all of installation and deployment work for the centre was done by Tech Data Canada staff, and “done on the back of our biggest month,” coming less than a week into the month after the always-busy month of March.
Also on hand to help open the new facility was Hazel McCallion, the venerable mayor of Mississauga, who joined Reid and Greg Myers, vice president of marketing at Tech Data Canada, to cut the ceremonial ribbon to open the centre.
“It’s very impressive… just an amazing array of advanced technologies,” McCallion said of the ATSC.