Vendor fair shines the spotlight on VoIP

Concord, Ont. – Value-added resellers are missing out on opportunities to partner with the other side of the voice over IP (VoIP) marketplace – telephony players – according to the vice-president of sales at Gentek

“The problem with the reseller community is that they don’t get involved in the telephone marketplace,” said Jeffrey Freedman. “One of the big challenges is marrying the company’s that do telephone systems with companies that do networks.”

One way the distributor hopes to better integrate the VAR community with the VoIP market is through the information sessions, networking opportunities and product demonstrations at its annual vendor fair, which this year was held Oct. 4.

“The response has been above expectations,” said Gentek president Mitch Freedman of the over 100 attendees, up 25 per cent from last year.

“The demise of shows like Comdex have been replaced by these kinds of events which are very focused,” he said. “This is an ideal place for a small VAR to learn about something one-on-one, face-to-face, without 5,000 other people and booths around you.”

VoIP technology is changing quickly, said Jeffrey Freedman, and 12 months from now, it will be very different.

“The learning curve is fairly steep and this kind of event is where we’re trying to get VARs to come and spend some time and effort to learn about the technology, than decide to make the investment or not,” he said.

Some of the vendors attending this year included Aastra Technologies, Epygi, Fortinet, Sangoma and SonicWall.

Compared to the U.S., Canada has not acted quickly in the VoIP space, said Freedman.

“There are three or four VON shows a year in the U.S. and only one in Canada and most of the attendees here are industry players, not end users,” he said.

“This is where VARs have to come to the table, they can’t wait for customers to come to them, they have to go out and sell it.”

A crystal ball for IP

Kelly Geerts, installation and service supervisor for Milton, Ont.-based ISP Look Communications, who attended the Gentek vendor fair for the first time this year, said his experience was interesting and educational.

“It gave me ideas about what other products we can sell to increase our business, the value-adds,” said Geerts.

He added that he appreciated learning about new IP products and seeing where the IP telephony industry is moving in the future.

“We’re an Internet provider so it’s (IP) something you have to be looking at to be competitive with the other players.”

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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