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By Steven Burke on April 12,2017 on CRN.com

Solution providers say this year’s Best of Breed channel thought leadership conference with a CEO fireside chat lineup consisting of Dell CEO Michael Dell, Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and Docker CEO Ben Golub is the best ever in the seven-year history of the invitation-only channel event.

This year’s BoB Conference, which brings together the top 120 solution provider CEOs with the top industry CEOs to discuss the rapidly changing channel landscape, takes place Oct. 9-10 at the Loews Hotel in midtown Atlanta.

The Channel Company CEO Robert Faletra said the event has prospered because of its ability to bring top executives together in an exclusive setting to to discuss the issues driving channel growth.

“We’ve got four key CEOs, all of them important to the channel and, quite frankly, they want to be there because of the attendees at the conference, which is the elite portion of the channel,” said Faletra. “This is the only thought leadership conference for the channel. If you’re a CEO of a significant solution provider organization and you’re trying to figure out what your strategy should be, you want to meet with others that have like-minded issues in front of them, and you want to interface with the top CEOs in the supplier community. It’s the only place you can really do that.”

One of the benefits of the BoB Conference, said Faletra, is the ability for solution providers to talk one-on-one with the industry’s top CEOs. “We’re all getting together to figure out what is the right strategy for the channel, where solution providers need to push their business in a very dynamic environment,” he said.

[highlight type=”one”]Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, No. 167 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500, said the “dream team” CEO lineup at this year’s event is a testament to the value the channel brings to the very top global IT companies.[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]”The lineup shows just how important the top best-of-breed solution providers are to the Michael Dells and Meg Whitmans of the world,” said Venero, a member of the BoB conference advisory board who has attended the event each year since its inception. “We continue to see attention from the top executives in the industry based on the quality of the attendees and the subject matter associated with the conference. In a time of many changes in the industry — the company splits, the acquisitions and mergers, public cloud and private cloud — the conference is more important than ever. It provides insight to what these companies bring to partners and customers, and brings credibility to our solution provider mission.”[/highlight]

[highlight type=”one”]Venero said he looks forward to the BoB Conference each year because it is not the traditional vendor “dog and pony” show. “It’s quality, top-level, intimate meetings with the top CEOs in the business,” he said. “It’s absolutely two-way collaboration from the top solution provider CEOs and the top technology CEOs. That elite teaming approach has grown in value year after year since the inception of the event.”[/highlight]

Frank Vitagliano, president and CEO of Computex Technology Solutions, No. 124 on the CRN SP 500, said the BoB conference has become the “can’t-miss pre-eminent” channel event in the industry because it brings together the best solution provider CEOs with the top vendor CEOs.

“From day one, this has been a really important event for the industry,” said Vitagliano, a channel veteran who, as a former channel chief, has seen the benefits of the conference from both the vendor and solution provider sides. “It got started, frankly, because the solution provider and the vendor community needed a platform to really understand the transition to the cloud and other major technology transitions. What Bob [Faletra] and The Channel Company team did was put together a list of the most significant players in the industry and personally invited them to attend. All of the most significant solution providers in the country come because it is a must-attend event. You can’t miss it because of the attendees and the importance of the topics that are discussed.”

Vitagliano said top-of-mind this year for solution provider CEOs is the continued rapid pace of technology changes and consolidation in the channel. “We see tremendous change ahead,” he said. “There is massive consolidation happening. There are disruptive technologies that are of major importance to those of us running solution provider businesses. It is really important that we understand from the top executives in the business what direction they are going in.”

The BoB Conference kicks off Oct. 9 with a fireside chat afternoon session with Faletra and Whitman, who has stepped up the company’s hybrid IT offensive this year with the acquisition of hyper-converged superstar SimpliVity and all-flash powerhouse Nimble Storage.

Later the day, Faletra talks with Gelsinger, who brokered the blockbuster VMware partnership with Amazon Web Services and the acquisition of real-time multicloud monitoring and management highflier Wavefront.

On Oct. 10, Faletra discusses the disruptive nature of Docker’s game-changing container technology with Golub, who has powered Docker deeper into the enterprise market with a new tiered channel program and partnerships with HPE and Accenture.

The conference closes with a discussion between Faletra and Dell, the PC entrepreneur-turned-technology-titan who pulled off the largest acquisition in IT history with Dell’s $60 billion purchase of EMC.

Dell now oversees a Dell Technologies portfolio that includes Dell EMC servers and storage, Pivotal’s cloud based development platform, RSA and SecureWorks security offerings, the Virtustream cloud, and the VMware virtualization and multi-cloud management software business.