Peak performance

Terry Kell, president of Ottawa’s Kanatek Technologies, is proof you should get to know your neighbours. After all, one of them just might offer to take your business literally to new heights.

Kanatek — an independent storage systems integrator — is sponsoring a climb of Mount Everest led by

Sean Egan, a 63-year-old professor of human kinetics at the University of Ottawa. If Egan’s summit attempt is successful, he will become the oldest Canadian to successfully climb the world’s highest mountain.

Kell, along with senior IT executives from private and public organizations, will trek with Egan’s team through Nepal to Everest’s base camp at the end of this month.

The executives won’t scale Everest, but they will set up a wireless network at base camp, which will include a link to Kanatek’s Ottawa office via ISDN satellite phone. The network will enable the researchers to swap files and back up data on other laptops.

The expedition, however, isn’t really about research from Kell’s perspective — it’s about marketing and promotion.

“”Storage solutions is a pretty dry topic — it’s like insurance,”” Kell said. “”This is a much more interesting way of getting your message out.

“”We’ve found people very receptive to learning about the expedition and the research, and more receptive to discussing what their needs and requirements are. It’s been a door-opener to prospective clients for our account managers,”” he added.

Sponsorship

Kanatek is putting up $50,000 as a base sponsorship amount. The company is also picking up some equipment and promotional costs surrounding the expedition, which is being co-sponsored by HP’s ProCurve Networking and Skywave Mobile Communications.

ProCurve is supplying militarized notebooks and tablets from HP. Skywave is outfitting the climbers with CGS transceivers that will track the expedition up the mountain.

The University of Ottawa and Toronto’s Ryerson University are also involved. One of the climbers is Peter Luk, director of Ryerson’s school of business management. As well, Ryerson business students will conduct a case study of the expedition to determine Kanatek’s ROI resulting from its involvement.

Kell didn’t exactly leap at the chance to get Kanatek’s name involved in the expedition. In fact, he actually rejected Egan when he first asked for sponsorship support a few years ago. Kell, however, offered to help Egan put his sponsorship package together. And when the expedition was delayed by a year, Kell started having second thoughts. There was, he surmised, a marketing angle to could play up.

“”I started drawing a lot of parallels between what (Egan) had been doing to prepare for the climb and what we do as it relates to business,”” Kell said. “”I started seeing metaphors with the growing mountains of data that we’re managing.””

Sending a message

Kell hopes Kanatek’s participation will encourage company employees to lead a more active lifestyle.

“”This is aimed at our employees,”” he said.

“”There’s more to life than work. This a tough industry we’re in. There’s a lot of stress, a lot of pressure and one way of dealing with it is maintaining a level of fitness, eating reasonably, leading a healthy, balanced life and that’s part of why we’re doing this.

“”It’s not some golf tournament that doesn’t mean anything to people. The research that will come out of it — the papers that will be written — will work their way through the health care system.””

Money raised from the expedition will go toward Child Haven International, an organization that assists women and children in Nepal, India, Tibet and Bangledesh.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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