A Canadian software developer has inked a deal with Ingram Micro Inc. to distribute its Linux-based server solutions through Ingram’s Alliance and Venture Tech Network (VTN) partners, expanding the company’s reach to 12,000 North American resellers.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ingram

will market, sell and distribute Net Integration Technologies Inc.’s (NITI) Nitix server operating system to its U.S. solution providers. Nitix will be available to Ingram’s Canadian partners “”somewhere down the road,”” an Ingram spokesperson said. The distributor will also provide its partners with technical education and training courses via its Solutions Center.

“”There’s a significant portion of Ingram customers that haven’t done business with (NITI) and that haven’t had the opportunity to see what our Linux operating system can do for them and their customers,”” said Greg McClement, vice-president and co-founder of NITI.

McClement said the deal makes it easier for U.S. VARs to buy integrated solutions becausse they won’t have to worry about shipping products over the border. Other benefits might include quicker ship times, better credit terms and previously established discounts with Ingram.

It’s NITI’s first deal with a broadline distributor. Talks between the two firms began about six months ago.

“”It was sort of a mutual interest meeting that got us together,”” said Jeff Becker, senior category manager at Ingram. “”We like (Nitix) because of the features and the value it offers to the VAR and the end customer.””

The NITI signing is part of Ingram’s ongoing Linux strategy, which was unveiled at this year’s IBM PartnerWorld conference in Las Vegas. There, Ingram announced a suite of Linux and other open source-based technology products, solutions, support and training services. Vendors include Red Hat Inc., Computer Associates International Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co., Intel Corp., IBM Corp., Legato Software, Novell Inc., Super Micro, Trend Micro Inc., Veritas Software Corp. and VMWare Inc. The distributor will offer marketing tools and field sales representatives as part of its Emerging Technologies Group to assist solution providers with migrating customers off Unix to Linux.

“”It’s a great product fit. (NITI) is very channel focused. It’s turned out to be a very good partnership between the two companies,”” said Becker.””Over the next year to year and a half you will continue to see us add product vendors to that list.””

Nitix uses a technology called autonomic computing, which it says has self-healing and self-configuring elements that make it easier to use for VARs trained on other software competencies such as Microsoft Windows or Novell NetWare.

NITI’s Linux server OS is designed for the small and medium business market, making it a good match for VTN Partners, Ingram’s top 300 partners and Alliance partners as they both focus on the SMB market, said McClement.

“”They’ve done a very good job in understanding the requirements of those partners and reaching out to them,”” he said. “”It’s very beneficial to a company like ours where we can leverage that relationship that Ingram’s already fostered.””

The first step, said McClement, is to help Ingram sales staff understand what his company does. “”That’s a step about 600 strong.””

Resellers looking to sell Nitix will need to be authorized by NITI.

NITI has been working with partners on Ingram’s advisory council and has participated in VPN events and will be at other partner-focused events and Webinars throughout the year.

In the upcoming weeks, NITI will take Nitix out to Ingram customers as part of the launch.

“”There’s a lot of (Ingram’s) customers coming back to them and saying, ‘We hear a lot about Linux, we’re interested in it, we need something that’s easy for us to understand and deliver to our customers.’ That’s where we fit in,”” said McClement.

Over the last three months, NITI has signed up 90 new channel partners each month in North America. The company is developing systems for data communication between itself and Ingram to ensure its channel partners can still get their four per cent marketing development funds even if they purchase products from Ingram.

NITI approved partners receive a 20 per cent discount on the MSRP. When partners first sign up they can receive discounts as high as 40 per cent.

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