LANDA opens up to IT end users

The Local Area Network Dealers Association will launch a new brand at Comdex Canada in Toronto next week and open up its membership to the end user community for the first time.

As NetPros by LANDA, the group will try to attract network administrators in banks and other corporations, with membership levels based on corporate size. The brand will be supported by a Web-based skills profiler, called NetPros Pages, that will attempt to match up the resellers and consulting firms in LANDA’s existing roster with potential customers.

LANDA president Ken Jackson said NetPros will eventually replace the LANDA name.

“Look at it this way: Tide is the brand, but Proctor & Gamble is the organization,” he said. “(NetPros) describes what we do and what we’re working towards.”

LANDA has traditionally operated exclusively as a community of systems integrators and VARs. Apart from monthly meetings that usually feature vendor presentations on emerging technology products, the group offers a group benefits program, cross-country road shows, training discounts and a member showcase at Comdex.

“We’re not just a dealer association anymore,” Jackson said. “We’re trying to come out to more of the different constituencies. We should really represent network professionals wherever they live.”

Bud Sukhu. senior systems integration and networking consultant of Future 2000 Systems in Mississauga, Ont., a long-time LANDA member, applauded the association’s decision to branch out.

“One of the big challenge a customer has is how to get the resources you need,” he said. “What they’re saying is, ‘Here’s an association that specializes in this field.'”

LANDA’s membership has already grown from about 500 firms to approximately2,000. The association has waived the fee for smaller resellers so that they could enjoy the benefits of the community.

“Most resellers don’t have a marketing budget,” Jackson said. “Membership in associations is a nice-to-have, but not necessarily a need-to-have.”

LANDA will deal with its own marketing needs by making good use of the Comdex Canada show, which runs at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre July 11-13.

The group will be running classrooms and content information at Networld + Interop with presentations by end users as well as the Garage fun zone with chiropractors and an “Ask the Expert panel that will convene three times a day. The Ask the Expert concept may be carried onto the forthcoming Web site, Jackson added.

“The timing for all this would never be perfect,” he said, “but at least with Comdex we get a unique opportunity to speak to members. We don’t get the chance to talk to them one-on-one that often.”

Jackson said the association’s move to expand its scope is partly a result of feedback from members whose customers are looking for alternative solutions to their networking problems.

Sukhu added that members benefit from the internetworking opportunities and additional resources that end user firms will bring. NetPro Pages, he said, is the icing on the cake.

“This whole database concept binds it al together,” he said. “If we’re looking for representation in Vancouver, there might be a firm out there that can handle the customer for us.”

Membership will be offered to organizations as well as individual user memberships, Jackson said.

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