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Doing IT Right: Tribal Health Org Saves with VMware Non-Profit Licensing

As an IT leader, you know the challenges of managing a team—determining technical needs, allocating resources, managing vendors and more. Where do you start?

When Adam Culich took over as Information Systems Officer for the California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB), a consortium of tribal health entities, he had a number of objectives. He started by looking at his vendor list.

It was a smart move. It led to partnering with MicroAge and Topher Spinnato, and that resulted in significant savings, especially when it came to getting them approved for VMware non-profit licensing.

Beyond the budgetary benefits, though, Adam found that partnering with MicroAge and Topher literally made his job easier.

“I did a review of all the vendors we’d been using,” he says. “I try not to spread my procurement across many vendors. It works better for me from a simplicity standpoint, and we tend to be able to better get what we need.”

Adam’s procurement team had previously been securing most hardware directly from manufacturers.

“But the response time and the pricing were less than stellar,” he says. “So I approached Topher Spinnato at MicroAge to see if he could do that for us.”

Adam was not disappointed; Topher delivered.

“The pricing was great, but the customer service—the high level of client care that Topher provides to me and my partners—is what I really value,” Adam says.

Going Above and Beyond

When looking at CRIHB’s VMware licensing, Topher saw an opportunity to help his client save money. “A federal client must buy federal VMware SKUs that come with federal, US-based support,” Topher explains. “But CRIHB is not technically a federal entity. It’s a non-profit and VMware non-profit licensing is considerably less expensive.”

“They were classified federal,” Topher says. “But no one had previously challenged that classification.”

Topher poured over VMware’s regulations to determine who qualifies for VMware non-profit licensing and CRIHB’s tax documentation. Finally, he succeeded at getting CRIHB approved as a non-profit. That instantly translated to a 40 percent savings on VMware licensing and a 30 percent savings on support.

And for Adam, that goes a long way.

“California tribes are typically underfunded,” Adam explains. “Money gets split many, many ways. So, for us to be able to bring in a 40 percent cost savings, that was huge.”

Topher’s level of service makes him a huge asset to Adam and CRIHB.

“In instances where other vendors are just taking orders, Topher goes above and beyond,” Adam says. “He makes sure I’m fully informed before I start doing anything. Topher works for me, not the manufacturers. He makes me feel like I’m the one who’s important. … And he’s made me look really good in front of my Executive Director.”

Topher and MicroAge also maintain a database of CRIHB’s contracts and renewals, complete with serial numbers and dates.

“As an IT partner, I can take these types of tasks off the client’s plate,” Topher says. “It makes the client’s life easier, and I’m here to nudge them when a renewal is coming due.”

For Adam, waiting for Topher’s monthly ping to alert him to any licensing renewals is a relief. “I have bigger things to keep my mind on,” Adam says.

In addition to the ongoing, day-to-day work, Adam also turns to Topher for emergency IT needs as well—you know, those “we need a back-up system delivered tomorrow” kind of needs.

“I frankly don’t have time to do all that legwork. It’s advantageous to have Topher help us manage the crisis and get a resolution queued up,” Adam says. “He’s essentially my procurement specialist. … I have a lot of experience in procurement, and I really haven’t come across somebody who takes this kind of care with their clients. It’s a real blessing for us to have someone we can rely on.”

If you need a smart, reliable IT partner who can save you money and hassle, Topher Spinnato can help. Contact him at 480-366-2033 or

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Topher Spinnato
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