Working at a VAR - a retrospective

As I've recently announced, I recently moved on from having spent 5 years in various roles working for a VAR (Value Added Reseller, for those of you not familiar with the TLA). I've been chatting with a few folks in the community (mostly on the customer side of the table, as I was prior to this place) who were wondering as to what the pros and cons of moving into such a role might be.

This is all Just My Opinion, obviously.

First things first: if you're working for a business where you feel that you're stagnating and want exposing to new tech on a regular basis, then a move to a Reseller will undoubtedly get you that. This is both a blessing and a curse, however - be careful what you wish for!

Secondly: if you're struggling to get trained and certified then a move to a VAR will most likely be a good move too. When I started as a humble sysadmin at my current (soon to be ex) employer I had a sum total of 0 certifications, and no formal training to my name beyond an ITIL v3 Foundation (I'll withold judgement on how useful that's been to my career). 5 years later, I'm Senior Solutions Architect with a host of certs - a few listed below, in alphabetical order because I definitely don't remember the exact order...

  • AWS Certified Developer and Solutions Architect Associate
  • Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert - Cloud Platform & Infrastructure (Server 2016)
  • VMware Certified Professional (5.5, 6, 6.5 Data Center Virtualisation, 6 Network Virtualisation, 7 Cloud Management & Automation)
  • VMware Certified Advanced Professional (6.5 Data Center Design)
  • Dell EMC Certified Cloud Specialist and Expert

There's a load more (check out my profile on LinkedIn if you want more), but you get where I'm coming from. VARs are required to maintain specific numbers of qualified staff in order to improve and maintain partner status with vendors, so if you're hungry for certs then you're going to get on just fine!

You get to spend a ton of time talking to customers, and you'll need to get comfortable with public speaking too - I wasn't sure at all about this, but I quickly found this to be my favourite part of the job.

If you're luck you'll find some free time to attend the like of VMUG, Dell Technologies World, VMworld, Cisco Live and all of that kinds of thing. You may think that these are just week-long parties, but the biggest takeaway from this for me was meeting my peers there and making those connections. These connections are important in the role, but equally important when you consider moving on...

The only downside for me was the workload if I'm honest - because I had to very quickly get expert level knowledge in a whole host of technologies (and how they interoperate) I found at times that I was losing whole weeks to study and the like, trying to keep things moving with the day job at the same time.

All in all - if you're working on the customer side of things and looking for something of a change it's well worth considering especially if you're keen to earn some certs and struggling to get funding from your current employer.

As always if you have any comments or questions about this post please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter.