EDS founder Ross Perot dies, aged 89

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EDS founder Ross Perot dies, aged 89

H. Ross Perot is best known around the world for twice running as president of the United States, but within the channel, he'll forever be heralded for growing not one, but two reseller giants.

The visionary businessman and a founding father of the IT channel died Tuesday. He was 89.

Perot ran as a third-party candidate for President of the United States in both 1992, when he won 19.9 percent of the popular vote, and then again in 1996.

He ran as a successful entrepreneur who could bring that experience to politics. And the foundation of that pitch was his founding of Electronic Data Systems (EDS) in 1962.

EDS was early into the IT services game and became a giant. In 1984 Perot sold a controlling interest in the company to General Motors for US$2.4 billion 

Perot fell out with General Motors and eventually started a new company - Perot Systems - that again offered enterprise services.

Both companies left a legacy still visible today. EDS was sold to HP in 2008 and was later renamed HP Enterprise Services. Eight years later, HP Enterprise Services and CSC came together in a $26 billion merger to form DXC Technology.

Perot Systems was acquired by Dell in 2009 and it later sold the company to NTT, 

As a longtime channel mover and shaker, Perot was very familiar with CRN, and was pictured in the 1990s holding up a copy of the magazine (then known as Computer Reseller News).

Lexmark Vice President of Worldwide Channel Sales Sammy Kinlaw, a 26-year channel veteran who called on EDS as an IBM business unit executive in the 90s, said as the founder of EDS, Perot had the vision and foresight to establish what has become the modern IT services channel.

“Ross was one of the first to build an IT services company for managing technology,” said Kinlaw, a passionate channel advocate who has raised the bar for the Lexmark channel sales offensive. “EDS was groundbreaking in its ability to take technology and make it digestible for end users. EDS was the first to capitalize on making IT an operating expenditure, telling customers – don’t do it yourself- let us be the experts. EDS was the first.”

Kinlaw said Perot was the modern architect for outsourcing IT technology services for large corporations. "Ross was the blueprint creator for outsourcing technology and that model has grown and is still in place today,” he said.

Kinlaw credited Perot as not only a modern IT channel visionary but also a top-notch business executive who was able to translate that IT services worldview into a successful company.

“Having a vision and then being successful in executing on a vision is what really separated Ross and EDS and then allowed EDS to grow and expand,” he said. “That original vision has grown and expanded into all of the channel companies that have followed suit today. Our VAR community learned from Ross and EDS and has been modeled after that with services like device monitoring and help desk.”

Kinlaw said the channel owes a debt of gratitude to Perot as one of the fathers of the modern channel. “We should be grateful that such a visionary was also able to execute that vision to build a company that many of us are still trying to follow today,” he said.

Four years after founding Perot Systems, Perot notched its first significant European customer – Europcar – and helped develop Greenway, an open Unix-Oracle system that supported 2,500 simultaneously connected terminals. That paved the way for Perot to develop curbside check-in and centralized fleet tracking.

Perot Systems placed in the top five of Fortune Magazine's Most Admired Companies in America for IT Services in 2006, 2007, and 2008, its final years of existence as a standalone company.

With Contributions From CRN Executive Editor, News Steven Burke

This article originally appeared at crn.com

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