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One longstanding challenge that the channel has faced is that there is always a shortage of IT pros who really understand what makes it tick. There are plenty of people with IT skills, but very few are savvy about what makes one solution provider more successful than another.

Looking to significantly increase the pool of IT people participating in the channel, CompTIA announced the formal inauguration of a new free open-access model for joining the IT channel association.

Nancy Hammervik, senior vice president for industry relations at CompTIA, said the association has already convinced 7,400 IT professionals to become registered users. The goal, said Hammervik, is to reach 10,000 registered users by the end of the year.

“Registered users get all the benefits of the content we create on behalf of the channel,” Hammervik said. “They just don’t get voting rights unless they pay the annual fee of $250 a year.”

Members who pay dues will be known as CompTIA premier members and will receive exclusive business tools and priority access to all of CompTIA’s research, training and education resources. All current CompTIA members automatically receive premier member status.CompTIA is also about to launch a more in-depth program for tracking how members leverage its content, Hammervik said. By keeping track of the lifecycle of individual members, CompTIA expects to be able to make proactive suggestions about what other types of content a member may find relevant, she added.

While CompTIA clearly has a vested interest in boosting its membership, the channel stands to benefit if more people understand the difference between, for example, being an agent, a reseller, or a provider of managed and cloud services. The biggest challenge in terms of making that happen is simply letting more IT people know how they can become part of a channel ecosystem that, more often than not, is always looking for a little additional channel-savvy help.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.