Cambridge Computer: A Unique Business Model Catering to Technical Decision-makers

Cambridge Computer has a unique business that sets them apart from the traditional EMC value-added reseller. Cambridge describes their business model as that of a broker-agent, rather than as a reseller or integrator. “Technical end users are often skeptical of the V in VAR,” explains Jacob Farmer, CTO of Cambridge Computer. “They have a hard time imagining a channel partner providing REAL value, and, on the off chance that there is real value, they imagine that it MUST come at an inflated price.” He goes on to explain that, “Our typical client is not looking for a lot of hand-holding. What they want if anything is a source of ideas, a sounding board for their ideas, and/or for a third party to help them build consensus across their teams.” Farmer goes on to explain that Cambridge’s business model evolved over time to hone in on a value proposition that resonates with enterprise architects and hands-on technology decision-makers. “These people are tough nuts to crack, and we have fielded a team and a model of doing business that differentiates Cambridge from the pack.”

Farmer describes himself as a tinkerer at heart. “As a kid I always wanted to know how things worked. I took apart my toys and amalgamated them with my other toys. I mixed the chemicals in my chemistry set that the instructions said not to mix!” Not surprisingly, the typical Cambridge customer is often a self-professed techy or geek. In fact, Cambridge’s client base is made up disproportionately of higher education, research and development, and other high-tech industries. “Our clients are perfectly capable of coming up with the answers themselves,” explains Farmer, “but what they like about Cambridge is that we accelerate their process and play the critical devil’s advocate role along the way.”


Cambridge Computer has a unique value proposition for enterprise architects and hands-on technical decision-makers


When pressed for how a broker/agent model is different than that of a reseller, Farmer explains, “The reseller’s job is to sell you something.
Jacob Farmer, CTO
My job is to be helpful and relevant to your project, whatever that means. If I do my job, I typically win the transaction.” Farmer sites as an example that Cambridge will often gather and analyze performance metrics with no upfront costs or commitments from the client. “Measure twice and cut once!” quips Farmer. “In this era, one should not be buying SAN technology based on guesswork.”

Farmer believes that his team’s biggest technical differentiators are in the areas of enterprise data protection and large scale file system management. “My team cut their teeth on Networker, Avamar, Data Domain, and Isilon, long before EMC acquired those product lines,” boasts Farmer. Indeed Cambridge has an industry-wide reputation for authoring best practices for enterprise data protection. Farmer claims that over 5000 data storage industry professionals have been through Cambridge’s training programs over the years. “Cambridge wrote the book on enterprise data protection,” claims Farmer. “You will find Cambridge’s unique course materials being taught at conferences and seminars across the country with raving reviews.”

Farmer believes that the biggest challenge facing his clients is the explosion in unstructured data. In the coming years, “we see EMC customers struggling with backups and data lifecycle management as their file systems burst out of their seams,” says Farmer. EMC continues to innovate when it comes to massively scalable storage devices, but today’s devices are bigger than the technology available to manage them. Cambridge constantly studies this problem, evaluates new technologies, and stays ahead of the curve with a combination of better methodologies, integration of third party technologies, and development of in-house software. “We are currently focused on tools for leveraging object storage systems such as EMC ViPR to address issues in the areas of backups, archiving, and global file sharing,” concludes Farmer.

Company
Cambridge Computer

Headquarters
Waltham, MA

Management
Jacob Farmer, CTO and Deena Berton, CEO

Description
Provider of data protection and lifecycle management solutions that meet the needs of demanding and highly technical clientele.