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Xandros to debut its partner program in Canada

Search for VARs will be part of Ingram Linux forum next month

Xandros is preparing to launch a new VAR partner program and will use the upcoming Ingram Micro Linux Education Forum to begin pursuing Canadian partners to deliver its line of Linux desktop and server solutions.

“We really want to educate the reseller market on where the value proposition sits with Xandros within the overall operating system space,” said Todd Kanfer, Xandros’ vice-president of sales and marketing.

The forum takes place June 22 in Markham, Ont., at the Hilton Suites Hotel

According to Kanfer, the channel market is currently over-saturated with Microsoft partners, which doesn’t allow for great margin opportunities. But with his company “resellers are able to distribute a lower cost product into the market and gain higher levels of margin because the customer is saving money, which they can spend on services offered by the reseller.”

Part of the value proposition Xandros offers, said Kanfer, is “we have taken the power of Linux and removed the complexity so that Microsoft administrators and Microsoft shops with Microsoft skill sets are now able to expand their product portfolio without having to increase technical training.”

Stephen Gamble, the company’s senior director of channel development, wants to sign at least 500 VARs and solution providers in Canada by the end of the third quarter.

“From the VAR community, we’re considering large and small, ones that have their hooks in small hospitals and small education verticals, government and manufacturing as well,” said Gamble.

The Xandros VAR partner program, which will launch June 15, will have four tiers: registered, gold, platinum and platinum elite. Gamble added that the program will include free sales and technical training, marketing support and lead generation.

“A big concern for Canadian VARs is getting qualified Xandros-specific leads and we’ll be rewarding VARs with richer and higher quantity and quality leads as they participate further into the levels of the program,” he said.

Gamble refused to go into specifics before the official launch, but said that margins in the program will be significant. “We have been keeping them concealed but margins at entry level are 25 points and that’s just on product, not on service,” he said.

Company CEO Andy Typaldos said he is committed to driving Xandros into the marketplace through the channel.

“For the last three years we have been engineering our product line to have desktop products for consumers and businesses and server products and management tools for small and medium businesses,” said Typaldos. “We’re the only Linux company that has a product that will excite that channel that is otherwise not able to go to market except with Microsoft.”

“We have built up demand from leads that we will be funneling through the channel,” said Gamble. “So even if customers go direct, our go-to-market strategy is to funnel the business back to the channel.”

And for those VARs and resellers that are more service oriented, Gamble said there is a very strong service component that Xandros is developing which includes a certified engineering program enabling partners to not only resell a maintenance contract, but be trained to provide the maintenance themselves.

Ingram Micro Canada signed Xandros only a month ago, an agreement it feels furthers its position in the Linux space. “There is a demand for Linux in the marketplace,” said Mike Gazdic, vice-president of vendor management at Ingram Micro Canada. “Our retailers and solution providers that service SMBs are looking for easy to use Linux alternatives.”

“Our commitment is to make sure we continue to offer the broadest product and service portfolio in the channel and allow resellers and customers to have access to new technologies and new markets previously not available in the IT channel,” said Gamble.

The deal with Xandros, he added, is still in the honeymoon stage of planning, but their participation at the June 22 forum “will be a good first opportunity to interact and engage with resellers and end user customers.”