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Mid-market heats up for channel

Arrow ECS is expanding beyond its enterprise base, eyeing lucrative mid-market opportunity

The SMB market is hot – maybe because the enterprise market isn’t so hot, at least for the channel.

A lot of vendors deal directly with their largest enterprise customers, skipping the distribution channel altogether, or in some cases working alongside a larger reseller to seal the deal.

It makes you wonder, then, if having an enterprise focus is simply too limiting for niche distributors. Arrow ECS, for example, just announced that it’s expanding beyond its established enterprise business to include mid-market offerings.

ECS, by the way, stands for Enterprise Computing Solutions. The “E” in ECS has been the main thrust of its distribution business until now. But the mid-market, it seems, is where it’s at these days, and will offer a lot more opportunities for distributors and their reseller partners (and is still somewhat easier to target than the highly fragmented small business market).

Now Arrow is going to offer more than 40 solutions for mid-size companies in the areas of security, storage and virtualization, along with marketing and demand-generation services to help reseller partners target this market. These solutions include hardware and software from IBM, Oracle, Symantec, Citrix and VMware, among others.

Arrow will provide pre-sales support, engineering support and financing services, while professional services will be provided through Arrow’s subsidiary, Alternative Technology, such as on-site engineering, call support and security assessments (these are available to resellers and can be resold as services to end-users). In the months to come, Arrow says it will expand on these offerings.

Earlier this year, IDC reported that mid-size companies in Canada are primed to make substantial investments in IT. And several reports indicate that some of the hottest technology areas are security, storage and virtualization – technologies that are now suitable (and affordable) for mid-size companies.

Unlike the enterprise market, there’s still untapped business in the mid-market, and less direct influence of tier-one vendors. In fact, this is where those tier-one vendors need the channel – there are simply too many mid-size companies to deal with directly.

At the same time, security, storage and virtualization are all complex technology areas that require a certain level of expertise and experience. You’re not going to walk over to Best Buy to pick up a perimeter and content security solution or storage resource management tool, after all.

The key for distributors will be to make it profitable for partners to target the mid-market, since it has its own unique challenges and obstacles. For Arrow, this strategy makes sense, since resellers are indicating they want to sell more into the SMB space – particularly here in Canada where the enterprise market is pretty much saturated.

So, for Arrow ECS, the “E” could become more of an “M.”