To say that the IT industry is ever-changing would be an understatement. At times it feels that the system I just implemented gets painted with the legacy brush by the hopeful vender pitching their wares. “We have the technology,” the sales professional assures. “Better. Stronger. Faster.” Being an IT manager, I am the common target of countless cold calls. Each of these enthusiastic callers promise they possess something unique that will dramatically alter my profession. Each one swears their next generation, software-defined technology offers a distinct paradigm shift. And all the calls end with the same closing plea: “Could I grab just 30 minutes in your calendar for you to talk to a pre-sales engineer?” I’m not saying these potential suitors hold empty promises. I’m sure many of their solutions offer up benefits to the market place, and some could even provide a benefit to my company. The problem is that agreeing to each 30-minute (which inevitably turn into a 60-minute) introductory meeting is an extremely inefficient use of time and resources. The trick is to filter through all the noise to find the few technical solutions that can address your business’ needs. There are two filtering methods that I know of. The first is to do the research yourself. Armed with Google, you comb the websites, white papers, webinars, and analyst reports. You attend the technical road shows, symposiums, and conferences. Your data center is a revolving door, evaluating one proof-of-concept demo model after another. Or you team up with a partner you can trust. A good Value-Added Reseller – or VAR – can be a valuable time-saver to any IT department. Most are happy to sell you whatever IT widgets and woozles you ask for. However, if you’re willing to invest the time to develop the business relationship, a VAR can provide so much more. I’ve worked with Compugen for a decade now. I will confess that in the beginning, our relationship was heavily on the order fulfillment model. Over the years and across many interactions, we’ve learned more about one another. Our conversations have evolved from merely procurement to more in-depth exploration of various technical solutions. By sharing the details for both current and future projects, they were able bring forward only the paradigm-shifting technologies that had actual impact for my environment. Does that mean that I agree with everything that they present? Of course not, and similarly they don’t automatically believe everything that I say. Instead, we have open and honest conversations and debates. We have disagreements to be sure, but we listen to each other’s opinions and try to understand the other’s reasoning. The result? I have a trusted advisor that evaluates a large pool of technologies throughout the industry on a regular basis. They bring forward just a small percentage of the next-gen tech that may have a play in my environment. And if I trip across something that I think is interesting, I pass it along for them to take a closer look at ask them for their opinion. At the end of the day, investing a few hours into the partnership saves me countless hours down the road. To me, getting that time back is one of the best values of working with a VAR.