HALIFAX — Comptia’s annual Solution Provider Breakaway conference attracted approximately 140 resellers and vendors to this Atlantic city last month, including Phoenix Technologies, Computer Associates International, Intel and Kyocera Mita.
When vendors weren’t high rolling at the blackjack
or poker tables in the Casino Nova Scotia, they took a few moments to sit down with CDN to discuss what they’ve been up to in recent months.
Alternative Technology Inc.
Mark Steiman, regional director for Canada at Denver-based software distributor Alternative Technology Inc. said traditional resellers shouldn’t rely on the procurement model as their go-to-market strategy. To survive they have to get into consulting services.
“”IT is coming out of the penalty box four years later with a higher degree of scrutiny as to how companies are procuring technology,”” said Steiman, who has worked in IT for about 24 years in various roles at manufacturers, distribution and enterprise solutions reselling.
Steiman added that resellers need to focus on one technology, rather than try to be a jack of all trades. “”Many organizations don’t have the investment capabilities of trying to be everything to everybody,”” he said. “”They need to focus on what resources they are capable of delivering and ask customers where they see a gap.””
Alternative Technology carries 33 vendor solutions divided into several categories including server-based computing, infrastructure/edge, security and management. Vendors include Citrix, APC, Sonicwall, Novell and WatchGuard. The distributor also offers education services from Citrix and professional and support services.
In 2004 it added several enhancements to its tiered customer partner program. Participation benefits include free freight via ground carrier on orders exceeding $1,500 and three-incident support contract, under which partners can receive technical support from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Cupertino, Calif.-based Barracuda Networks is trying to grow its base of resellers in Canada to sell its flagship product, the Barracuda Spam Firewall appliance, said Vance Kroeker.
“”We’re pushing for more resellers, especially in Canada. (Barracuda) has pretty good coverage in the U.S.,”” said Kroeker, a former reseller who recently joined the firm as channel manager for Canada. He is based in Surrey, B.C.
Barracuda Networks prefers to sell its product directly to resellers, rather than go through distributors, Kroeker added. “”Distribution doesn’t work well with RMA,”” he said.
Kroeker talked about the company’s “”try and buy”” program, under which resellers give customers a unit to try for 30 days before they buy it. “”It’s kind of like a puppy dog sale,”” said Kroeker. He added the conversion to sale is almost 100 per cent, making the program very effective.
The security vendor also offers a Spam Defense Partner Program, which resellers can register for on its Web site. Benefits include marketing materials, lead generation marketing programs, discounted evaluation units and a co-op marketing program.
When it comes to security solutions, Kroeker believes software spam solutions are not nearly as effective as appliances. “”The appliance sits behind a firewall in front of the mail server,”” he said. “”The software application increases the load on the server. It doesn’t decrease it.””
CDI, a subsidiary of the Hyatt Group, told a room full of solution providers and system builders that if they weren’t currently buying refurbished computers, they would be by the end of the presentation.
“”We position ourselves as a channel partner,”” said company president James Drohan. “”We’re not going to risk your money trying CDI products.””
He said CDI can help resellers make between 20 to 30 per cent margins. Radio Shack, for example, was able to buy a Dell Dimension 2300 Intel Celeron 1GHz system for $395 from CDI and resell it for $495. Such partners, including Future Shop, are having “”tremendous success”” selling refurbished Dell PCs to business, he said.
“”If you can provide corporations with the Dell product that matches the chipset, you’re gold,”” said Drohan. “”You can leverage Dell’s market presence.””
Comparing CDI to distributors Ingram Micro and Tech Data, Drohan told resellers to think of CDI as a distributor of used products trying to provide similar services. For example, CDI recently contracted with The Business Network (TBN) to provide aWeb tool allowing its partners order product in real time.
Hitachi Global Storage Technologies, which was formed in 2003 from the merger of the storage technology businesses of Hitachi and IBM said it has 15 per cent market share in Canada.
“”We find with technology areas in Toronto that there are just as many innovators in Canada as there are in the U.S.,”” said Willie Evans, the company’s director of North America sales.
“”We want to make sure that our products are positioned with industry leading companies like Voodoo PC.””
Hitachi is also partnered with Richmond, B.C.-based system builder Seanix Technology Inc.
Hitachi is also planning to open product depots in Toronto and in either Alberta or B.C early next year.
“”That will help us promote ourselves as a valid drive supplier in Canada,”” said Evans.
Hitachi will roll out channel programs in this calendar quarter, said Evans. He wouldn’t give any details except to say that they will provide resellers with incentives such as rebates or co-op market development funds, and will mix and match different elements from its current programs.