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Resellers and solution provider channel partners agree that business
conditions out there are tough these days, but there’s a new sense of optimism
now among both VARs and vendors that funds from the economic stimulus package
will get things moving again.

In particular, vertical sectors such as utilities, health care, education and
government are expected to lead the growth this year during the economic
slowdown, according to Tiffani Bova, a vice president at Gartner working on
channel marketing and strategies. Gartner recently revised its forecast for
2009 downward, again, after “Q1 of this year was significantly less than what
we thought it would be.” Bova recently addressed resellers and solution
providers at the Ingram Micro VTN invitational conference in Orlando,

Some of these verticals are anticipating the stimulus package funds, since they
have not yet been made available. Indeed, most people are still looking for
answers about where the funds will come from and how end customers can go about
getting them.

“I want to know who signs the check,” one solution provider audience member
asked Bova during the question-and-answer period following her presentation. No
one knew the answer. But another audience member, talking about an HP and
VMware proposal submitted to a medical group client, said he thought that
client would balk at the price. But the client didn’t blink because that client
said it was expecting $44,000 per doctor in stimulus funds.

Still, Bova says that the impact of the stimulus funds is not expected to hit
until 2009 or 2010, simply because the logistics of distributing them have not
yet been sorted out. However, she advised technology resellers to start doing
unsolicited bids.

“If you aren’t in these segments that are getting the funds, get in there,” she
says. “You need to be very active in 2009 with them to be part of the spend in

However, executives at Juniper Networks attending the Ingram Micro event
advised against chasing stimulus funds if they aren’t earmarked for customers
you already target.

“The ones who chase it have to realize that it’s going to be very competitive,”
says Blaine Raddon, vice president of channels at Juniper. “Those who already
have a practice in that space will have the first mover advantage.”

Bova says that in health care alone $17 billion has been earmarked for
incentive payments to physicians and hospitals to implement electronic medical
records, $2 billion has been dedicated in grants and loans for health care IT
interoperability, and $12 billion has been allocated for broadband and facility
construction for telemedicine.

In the private sector, funds are tighter, so the opportunities in 2009 will be
won by those who can help clients “do more with less.”  Bova recommends
taking a consultative approach to clients, helping them reduce the costs of
their day-to-day IT expenses in order to free up funding for other IT project

“Between 2002 and 2009 the amount spent on just running IT is virtually
unchanged, but technology has changed drastically since then,” she says. Bova
believes solution providers can exploit that technology to reduce day-to-day IT
costs for clients.