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When solution providers descend upon Las Vegas
next week for the annual CompTIA Breakaway conference, they’ll find the event
far more open and inclusive than previous years. By design, CompTIA has gone to
great lengths to open one of the largest channel confabs to more voices and
discussions that will help attendees improve their businesses.

“Instead of being what we think [solution providers] want to hear, we’re
doing what people tell us they need. We’re facilitating the process,” says Todd
Thibodeaux, president and chief executive of CompTIA.

Breakaway marks the first anniversary of Thibodeaux’s arrival to CompTIA (he
didn’t officially take over as CEO until
September 2008). While at his first Breakaway last year in Orlando,
Fla., Thibodeaux observed the good, bad and
lackluster aspects of the conference. From those observations was born the new
philosophy of inclusion and content directly related to member and solution
provider needs.

Meeting solution provider needs meant bringing in more outside expertise—including
successful technology practitioners, expert vendors, media and analyst partners
and affiliated associations.

“We’re not the experts; we’re never going to be,” says Thibodeaux. “We’ve
created an event that is more business focused and to have speakers that are
more aligned to attendees’ needs because that’s where the rubber meets the

Collaboration with industry experts and thought leaders is most evident in
the Peer-to-Peer Reseller Discussion Groups, which will feature guided
discussions by such industry luminaries as Baptie & Co.’s Rod Baptie, SWOT
Management Group’s Bill Brandt, 1nService’s Paul Cronin, former channel chief
Rauline Ochs, NASBA’s Frank Raimondi, Jenaly Technology Group’s MJ Shoer and
Level 3’s Craig Schlagbaum.

Also participating in the discussion and panel discussions are channel media
groups, including Channel Insider on security trends and opportunities, MSP
Mentor on maintaining profitability through the managed services model,
Business Solutions on making money in the software-as-a-service world, and The VAR
Guy on future channel trends. Channel Insider and Amazon Consulting will also
present exclusive findings on our joint research on the value of technology and
vendor certifications.

Unlike past Breakaway events that featured entertainment as part of the
general sessions, Thibodeaux departed from tradition and brought in Patrick
Lencioni, president of The Table Group, to discuss how to overcome
dysfunctional organizations.

Gone from this year’s Breakaway are the briefing rooms, which were sponsored
vendor presentations that attendees were rotated through. Members told CompTIA
that the briefing rooms weren’t an effective means for conveying information
and they weren’t getting much value out of them.

Thibodeaux says he will measure the success of what the attendees get out of
the event in terms of value. “If they can say they had a better experience than
prior years and got out of it what they needed, then we succeeded,” he says.


Check out Channel Insider‘s
presentations at Breakaway — "Finding Opportunities in the Evolving
Security Matrix" — Wednesday,
Aug. 4, 10 a.m.

Find out what’s new for you at Channel
. Visit Channel Insider’s booth (#212) at the Breakaway.