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Even as Cisco
Systems and Hewlett-Packard postured in their heightening competition
in
the data center product arena, Tech Data made moves this week that solidified
its position as the technologically neutral one—an IT Switzerland of sorts.

Tech Data’s AIS (Advanced Infrastructure Solutions) division announced four new
solutions groups, two of them along vendor lines, focusing on data center
technology: HP Solutions Group, IBM
Solutions Group, Software Solutions Group and Storage Solutions Group. The
establishment of these groups follows the creation of a Cisco Solutions Group
in 2009.

"If you’ve ever gone into a data center, you aren’t going to see just one
vendor brand in there," Tech Data’s Pete Peterson tells Channel Insider.
Peterson is a senior vice president at the technology distributor and general
manager of the AIS division. "At the end of the day that’s the role of the
distributors—to provide best-of-breed to the partners we support."

Cisco’s
biggest partners win in the rift between HP and Cisco. Click here to read more.

Each of the vendor-specific solutions groups offers
assistance in the form of training, sales expertise, and marketing and business
development help. The groups are staffed by Tech Data employees who hold many
technology certifications across the areas of servers, storage, virtualization,
management software and high-end networking, according to Tech Data. For
example, Peterson says, in terms of VMware certifications, Tech Data has 500
VSPs, 86 VTSPs and about 10 VCPs.

Tech Data’s solutions groups will also be the foundation for AIS’ specialized
partner-enablement strategy in 2010, including sales and technical trainings, Web
seminars, road shows, the Technology Solutions Tour and TechSelect University.

Peterson says when a partner phones Tech Data looking to add a storage practice,
for example, the reseller would interface with his or her sales rep to develop
a training strategy.

"We represent best-of-breed, vendor-agnostic data center solutions,"
Peterson says. "We know some will customize and specialize on Cisco, some
will customize and specialize on HP. We want to make sure we have the right
resources for both."

And that’s just what technology distributors do.

"We have over 400 manufacturing relationships in the United States alone," Peterson says. "HP and Cisco are
two of our most strategic vendor partners. We have thousands of partners that
we sell HP to and thousands we sell Cisco to, too." And some partners buy
from both vendors.