Keeping the middleman relevant

The distributor world has been busy with a number of conferences and partnerships that reflect the need for providing value-added services. Vendors are looking for specialized distributors, while distributors are offering value-added tools and services for their reseller customers.

Avaya

has sought out a distributor to strengthen its Canadian channel support for voice and IP telephony products in the small to medium-sized business market.

Avaya has signed on Westcon Canada Systems Inc. to distribute its line of Avaya SMB products. Westcon has offices in Montreal and Toronto; it says it will offer training and certification to its resellers on the Avaya product line.

Westcon also distributes Nortel’s Meridian product line, which includes integrated communications systems, messaging applications and call centre products, which is Nortel’s flagship product line for the enterprise market.

A few years ago, Westcon made the decision to begin investing in the convergence market and needed vendors with a strong presence in PBXs. The deal with Nortel was a first step; now, it’s rounding out its portfolio with Avaya’s SMB products.

In Canada, it’s turning itself into a specialized convergence distributor, with solutions for small to big business. It’s a sign of the times that distributors must offer value to their reseller customers to stay relevant in the distribution channel.

Montreal-based Eicon Networks, a provider of communications products, also signed on a new distribution partner, this time to expand its presence in the North American market. It’s selected a little-known Citrix distributor, Alternative Technology Inc., as its “”premier non-exclusive distributor”” for Canada and the U.S.

AltTech, headquartered in Denver with a Canadian office in Mississauga, Ont., has a customer base that includes large enterprise solutions providers as well as smaller niche-focused VARs.

It’s another example of a vendor looking for a specialized distributor with broad access to channel partners.

In brief

In other news, Ingram Micro Canada postponed its Sept. 9 Technology Expose: Enterprise Solutions event, due to recent events that have affected resellers.

“”In addition to the challenges of an already soft IT market, the recent issue of the major power outage contributed to lost sales for many businesses that were forced to close or work at less than maximum capacity,”” says a statement from the distributor. “”These challenges have made it difficult for resellers to attend all the current vendor and distributor events delivering critical technology solutions.””

Ingram Micro plans to reschedule the event later this year.

But Avnet Hall-Mark’s Partner Conference in San Antonio went ahead as scheduled. The distributor of IBM enterprise servers, storage, software and services has deployed a suite of tools and services for IBM resellers to help them meet e-business-on-demand opportunities.

IBM estimates these tools will increase sales opportunities for resellers by as much as 30 per cent.

For example, the Renewal Portfolio allows VARs to identify, sell and manage renewal opportunities online up to 18 months in advance for leasing, existing software subscriptions and software maintenance.

By providing these tools and services to VARs, Avnet – like Westcon and AltTech recognizes the need to keep itself relevant as middleman in the changing distribution channel.

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