Preview: Dueling distie community conferences

Chicago and Boston

Chicago hosts VTN while Boston hosts Varnex

Channel community events from Synnex’s Varnex group and Ingram Micro’s VentureTech Network community will go head-to-head this week as each group holds its first major event of the year and outlines the path forward.

And for the first time, will be in two places at one time. Gone a little multiple personality, have we? Not really. I’ll be blogging live from the Windy City for VentureTech, while my esteemed colleague Chris Talbot will be reporting from Beantown for Varnex.

So what are we expecting? What’s the topic at every conference in 2011?

The cloud.

Here in Chicago, Renée Bergeron, Ingram’s vice president of services, is slated to give a keynote presentation. Bergon’s team was behind last fall’s launch of the Cloud Marketplace, and with a presentation entitled “Whose Cloud Is It Anyway?,” expect some follow-up on that announcement and probably a whole lot more.

Meanwhile, MSP Mentor’s Joe Panettieri notes some of the moves Synnex has made on the cloud and managed services fronts, and a tweet from the publication seems to indicate there’s going to be a lot more to talk coming from Boston.

Beyond that, it will be interesting to watch the continuing evolution of Varnex’s Canadian community.  Last fall’s Varnex conference in Las Vegas was the first to include Canadian chapter members, with some sixteen attendees. At the time, Synnex marketing chief Bob Stegner said it was a toss-up whether the next conference for Canadian partners would be a Canada-only affair or integrated with the U.S. gang. Clearly, the latter won out in the end, but why? And what kind of momentum is Varnex seeing in the Canadian channel?

Momentum is also sure to be the word here as VTN kicks off its 12th year here in Chicago. But I’m curious to see how that momentum is manifesting itself. At last year’s fall VTN event in San Francisco, Ingram’s John Fago indicated that VTN was ready to become more managed by member partners and less so by Ingram. Has that happened? I’ll sit down with both Fago and Rita Baiana, Ingram Canada’s VTN chief, and new VTN council co-presidents Rob Bracey and Jim Veraldi to figure that out. Either way, word has it that the Canadian contingent here will be about 55 people.

Both events will also get a view from the top, as Ingram’s Greg Spierkel and Synnex’s Kevin Murai (both Canadians, might I add) will both speak to members in keynote sessions over the next two days.

It’s going to be a busy week. And that’s saying nothing of Autodesk’s Channel Media Summit on Thursday in San Francisco (I’ll be headed there after VTN wraps up Tuesday night) or Juniper’s Partner Summit in Phoenix (We don’t have staff there, but we’ll be keeping a close eye on proceedings from a distance).

With so many major channel events going on in one week, is anyone left in the office this week to actually… you know… sell stuff and support customers?

Safe travels if you’re on the road this week. And whether you’re there in person or watching with curiosity from afar, we’ll have full coverage for you all week here on