Every time John DeRocker thought about what it took to get his sales and marketing staff trained and certified on a new product, it made his head ache.
DeRocker's worries were understandable. As one of the largest solution providers in Plymouth, Minn., his company, Nexus Information Systems, maintains a large professional services team.
Budgeting to fly them to multiple locations for training proved challenging and was "getting quite expensive and inconvenient," says DeRocker, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Nexus. On top of that, there were rising hotel costs, the price and timing of the training itself, and of course, the toughest and the most costly part -- taking team members away from their families to train at the manufacturer's facility. Everyone wanted to find an alternative way to get trained.
Then, about 18 months ago, DeRocker discovered an answer to his training woes in VPN Dynamics, a wholly-owned subsidiary of channel distributor Ingram Micro.
VPN Dynamics is one of the few training organizations to offer interactive, virtual, live on-line training, which differs from traditional e-learning in that an instructor actually leads the class. Live online training offers channel partners a way to tackle training, certification and virtual labs while eliminating travel costs and limiting downtime. VPN Dynamics further differentiates itself with core competencies in security and networking, and a growing emphasis on virtualization.
"Live online training is our fastest growing method," said Jeff Borovitz, sales manager at VPN Dynamics. "We now train more people that way than in classrooms." One reason, Borovitz said, is because of the convenience and cost savings. But just as important is that class size is kept to a maximum of six people and a class is never cancelled, even if only one person signs up.
VPN Dynamics' classes, which are also offered in a traditional classroom setting, are open to all levels of solution provider partners and feature training from vendors Citrix Systems, Check Point Software, Juniper Networks, Meru, Nokia, SonicWALL, VMware and Websense. Classes range in length from one to five days and cost $795 to $5,495, depending on a vendor's courseware.
According to DeRocker, Nexus' engineers like VPN Dynamics training because "they get the same level of knowledge as a manufacturer's course and can do the training from home, which is a huge benefit." He also notes the significant savings on travel costs.
Also, because VPN training is a SKU line item at Ingram Micro, channel partners like Nexus can sell training as a value-add to their customers.", Borovitz says. Even if the market picks up, he says, "live online classes rate more highly with partners than in-person training because of the convenience."
Borovitz is working hard to get the word out about VPN Dynamics. "My goal is to stop being the best-kept secret at Ingram Micro," he says, adding, "Last year, we did a class for a group of CheckPoint engineers and all of them said that it was the best CheckPoint class they had ever taken. They said they couldn't imagine taking training any other way."
Nexus Information Systems
VPN Dynamics (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ingram Micro)
An alternative, cost-effective and sensible means to on-site staff training.