RFP - What's In An Acronym

monitor landing pageTom Gabriele, Product Manager

I'm very excited. My project has been approved by management with a low TCO and a high ROI. I solicited RFP's from a number of vendors but how do I decide on the right one? While the RFP response should help, I really should consider a "VAR" that specializes in the software solution that I'm implementing. A "VAR", or Value Added Reseller, represents an organization that takes an existing product, like Oracle's JD Edwards software, adds its own "value" and provides a final, complete solution.

Along with selling the hardware and/or software, a true VAR offers strategic planning, system design and implementation, hosting, performance monitoring and tuning, training, technical support, database and web development, consulting and research to name just a few. For small to mid-size companies a VAR is generally the vendor of choice for designing, setting up and implementing their computer systems. VAR's can be classified as either hardware-centric, deriving most of their revenue from selling hardware or service-centric deriving the majority of their revenue from selling services.

There are several things that a VAR isn't, and these differences can be subtle. Organizations that typically add little to no value to a product are simply Resellers, firms that sell a product and then rely on you to make any custom configurations or integration, or look to you to hire another third party to do so. A VAR at times can simply be a Reseller if the client wishes to go it alone. What about those organizations that deal with the management of larger, more complex projects that may span the globe or many years? Those vendors can be considered System Integrators and Implementation Providers. These firms specialize in larger scale projects spanning many divisions and/or years. Finally, some organizations manage and deliver software solutions utilizing the internet which eliminates the need for you to manage and maintain your own internal network. These vendors only require you to invest in low-end computers or "dumb terminals" in order to access your system. These Application Service Providers (or ASPs) typically operate in highly niche markets and can at times also be a Reseller or VAR in that they add additional value to an existing system or systems.

Over the past several decades corporate data centers have been built from "appliance-based products", highly optimized products for a particular function. All of this stands to change radically with the onset of the public cloud. In this brave new world, where the cloud is changing the economics of technology, where does the VAR fit in? Why does anyone need a reseller? The obvious step is for VARs to embrace the new converged infrastructure and private clouds. While system manufacturers are all pushing the "converged" infrastructure, where storage, networking and computing come in pre-loaded blocks that can be assembled into a private cloud, this is really a stepping-stone to a more hybrid and public cloud. VARs need to be aware of this shift and should be working towards providing the "best of both worlds" to their client's needs.

With these points in mind, how do you choose the right type of solution provider for your business? Select one that focuses on your specific need. For example, the business of a pure ASP remains providing application services as its main business. At GSI we encompass expertise around each of the aforementioned areas, from that of a Reseller to that of an ASP. Our "value" is in our ability to provide you with whatever service(s) that you require. These can range from the sale of the initial JDE software, expertise in its configuration to meet your underlying business needs, development of custom applications utilizing either the inherent JD Edwards toolset or various web languages, all the way to the management and hosting of your solution. In addition, GSI adds our complimentary products, performance and system monitoring tools as well as our strategic partnerships and you truly are investing in a well-rounded VAR. Until next time. . .

If you have questions about VAR's, please email us at inquiries@GetGSI.com.