Diving Into The Channel

People who follow me on Twitter or in real life know that my company recently outsourced IT operations to HP. As a result of this agreement between the two companies, I was offered a job with HP. I was faced with a choice. Do I work for HP, or find something else? I went over the pros and cons of corporate IT life and consulting life here. Several people from all sides of the argument weighed in via the comments. I was also fortunate enough to attend the HP Discover conference in Las Vegas on HP’s dime. I was able to talk to a good number of HP employees. It definitely gave me more things to think about.

Last week I accepted an offer with a local reseller, ICV Solutions. I’m sure you’ll hear more about them in the coming months. 😉 I’d like to take a moment and enumerate the reasons I decided to dive into the sales channel and leave corporate IT. I know that these are decisions that various people within IT make at differing points in their career. Much like the decision to move from a generalist into a network, systems, storage, security, virtualization specialist role. In any event, maybe this will help someone trying to figure out where they want to end up. Understand that I am biased at this point, so take what I say with a grain of salt(Hey, at least I warned you!).

1. I’m not ready to work for a vendor. – Taking a job with HP would have meant working for a vendor. I understand that the part of HP I would be working for came from the EDS acquisition and it isn’t the same as the rest of HP who is in the business of selling HP solutions. To that I simply say that it would be foolish for HP to NOT use the EDS customers to push their own solutions. They have a relatively large client base that they can sell more hardware and software to. It doesn’t really matter to me who the vendor is. I would feel the same way if it were IBM, Cisco, or any other vendor. I need choices when it comes to technology, and working for a vendor would ultimately push me towards their solutions. Independence is of great concern to me.


2. I want to build more things. – With the exception of a few larger companies, my experience in corporate IT has been one of more caretaker than builder. Being a caretaker means you become more intimately familiar with the network, but I have done enough of that over the past several years. I have the urge to build things, and corporate IT will not give me that opportunity anywhere close to what the VAR(value added re-seller) space will.


3. Corporate IT life is too comfortable for me. – I like challenges. There’s nothing harder, in my mind, than walking into a completely foreign network and having to figure out a problem in a limited amount of time. Although I realize that some of the problems will be relatively simple, I am hoping for quite a few that really push me to the limits of my technical abilities. I enjoy chaos as I find you REALLY see what people are made of when they have to deal with high stress situations.


    4. Better access to alpha geeks. – Unless you work in a rather large company, chances are you are an army of one or a few when it comes to the network. Even if there are several network people on staff, there might only be a few that really enjoy the technology. I need better odds than that. I need a bigger group of alpha geeks to bounce ideas off of and learn from. With the exception of 1 or 2 people, I know every one of the engineers I will be working with at my new job. I am satisfied that this is a group I can learn from and work with. I also know that in some regards, I will have different opinions than them, and that is exactly what I want. I don’t need validation of my thoughts per se. I want someone to disagree and make me state my case as to WHY I prefer one solution over another. I can get some of this through social media and local user group meetings, but there’s something to be said for constant access to a local group of alpha geeks. Discussing technology is much better in person.


      5. I want a closer relationship with vendors. – On the corporate IT side, every vendor wants to sell to you. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not the exact relationship I want with the vendor. Contact is infrequent and is only driven around a potential sale. I’m not faulting vendors for that. They have to focus on a variety of customers in order to stay in business. They can’t spend all their time worrying about one customer who may not even buy from them. As a reseller, I am hoping the relationship will be a bit different. It is in the vendor’s interest to ensure you are armed with the appropriate information in order to sell and implement their solutions. I’m not usually satisfied with a slide deck showing why product X is better than the competition. I need more than that.


        Closing Thoughts

        I don’t expect these 5 things to be completely agreeable by everyone. I also know I am probably being a little idealistic. If  I seem to portray corporate IT life or working for a vendor in a negative light, that wasn’t my intention. We all have different needs and desires and I don’t have a problem when people have views that are different than mine. These are my views today. Will they be the same in a few years? Well, as you have no doubt heard before:  “It depends”.

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        2 Responses to Diving Into The Channel

        1. Aaron Paxson says:

          I agree with every one of your points. It’s the “unfamiliarity” of networks that frighten me. I like being able to know what the problem is before looking at it. That’s the only thing with keeping me from moving away from the enterprise. That fear, is only based on my lack of confidence in the subject, and will change soon.

          Well said, and good write-up.

        2. Well, i’m 100% confident that HP will miss what you can bring.. but good luck with the new role!

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