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Avnet Technology Solutions is expanding its vertical market practices for the data center and has hired a new leader to head up the effort.

Avnet says Michael Houghton, vice president of Vertical Market Solutions for Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas, will lead the strategic direction and growth of Avnet’s new vertical market segments in banking, energy/utilities and retail.

“Gartner has identified banking, energy/utilities and retail as strong growth markets for the technology channel,” says Tiffani Bova, vice president of research for the IT Marketing and Channel Strategies Group at Gartner, in a prepared statement.

“Value-added resellers and distributors who understand the nuances of these markets can differentiate themselves from other providers by offering business-focused and vertically relevant solutions and services. Building training and enablement, which can help channel partners target the right customers with the right solutions at a lower total cost-of-sale, is a winning combination for growth.”

The new Avnet vertical market practices represent an expansion of the distributor’s existing efforts.

 “Avnet is taking our industry-leading SolutionsPath methodology from our highly successful HealthPath and GovPath vertical market offerings and expanding it into the high growth markets of banking, energy/utilities and retail,” says Tony Vottima, senior vice president, Solutions Marketing and Development, Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas, in a prepared statement.

“We believe our strategy of enabling value-added reseller specialization will yield continued high-growth results for our partners as it has for the past four years.”

Avnet says it is making strategic investments in support of these three new vertical markets, and the practices will be formally launched by the end of this year.

Houghton, who will oversee the new vertical solutions, joins Avnet from Direct Alliance Corp., a business process outsourcing provider that serves Fortune 500 companies.