High-speed Ethernet adapter vendor looking for VARs

A manufacturer of 10 Gigabit Ethernet server and storage adapters has launched its first channel program as it hunts for as many as 20 resellers in Canada.

“My goal is to grow our channel revenue as fast and as steeply as possible,” said Tracy Crowe, director of market development at Neterion Inc.

The Cupertino, Calif., company – whose hardware development office is in Ottawa, where its roots were in a company called S2io – makes the Xframe and Xframe II 10GbE adapters. Until now its customers have only been OEM manufacturers, including IBM, Hewlett-Packard and SGI.

The market for high-speed Ethernet has been small, but Neterion believes that the number of North American companies interested in or piloting the technology means it’s time to expand sales through the channel.

About a dozen VARs – none Canadian – are already selling or have signed up to start selling its products, Crowe said, which is why it’s announcing the Professional Partners Program now.

He’s looking for networking or storage integrators and solution providers with networking experience and who earn at least US$1 million a year to medium and large businesses, although exceptions could be made for VARs with a vertical expertise.

Initially there’s only one tier in the program. But either late this year or early in 2007 it will expand to three levels, separated by level of revenue, with higher levels getting more product discount.

Applications can be filed online at the company’s Web site.

Xframe is a series of network interface cards that plug into servers and storage on systems allowing Ethernet to run as high as 10Gb.

Models include the Xframe for PCI-X 1.0 and Xframe II for PCI-X 2.0 support. Upcoming shortly are the Xframe E for PCI-Express-based servers, as well as Xframe II CX-4 for high performance copper connectivity.

The line is priced by connectivity, with CX-4units priced at $1,990, those equipped with short-range optical connections priced at US$3,990 and those with long-range optical at $5,990.

Neterion is looking for what Crowe called “bandwidth-hungry” opportunities in the energy, broadcast and life sciences industries, including server consolidation and optimization.

It’s not clear how big the market opportunity for 10Gb Ethernet is here now, however.

Alan Freedman, research manager for infrastructure hardware at IDC Canada, characterized it as an emerging market being looked at mainly by “more advanced companies.”

“In the switch world we’re seeing it starting to come on, but most of the transition is from 100Mb to 1Gb.”

“Ten gigabit is at the high end of the (equipment) food chain,” Crowe cautioned, and not a volume sale.

He also said “there’s a lot of opportunity in tuning, in performance management around selling our adapter.”

Crowe promised that the company will work closely with the channel.

“We’re leveraging the Neterion marketing machine — our trade shows, our Web site, any promotions we do — to create a huge set of leads. Then we’re taking them into our telesales group to qualify those leads. So you’re not just dumping a name on somebody.”

There will also be sales and training available to help partners sell and support the products, some of which will be delivered through a partner portal.

There’s also deal registration program, which right now is accomplished over the phone but soon will be done online.

Finally, Neterion staff will help partners clinch a sale if necessary. “We recognize that 10 gigabit is still a relatively new technology, so if they need us we’re there, whether it’s through conference call or, if it makes sense, going in with them.

To help partners with sales there’s an evaluation program for several models. The Xframe CX-4 is going for US$1,190 per adapter (only two per customer, except government and education institutions), which is about 50 per cent off list price. There’s also a specially-priced iSCSI three-licence starter bundle.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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