Aten sets up Canadian office for local KVM opportunities

Taiwanese keyboard/video/mouse switch provider Aten capped off its 10th anniversary in the North American market by increasing its presence in Canada.

The company this week said it had appointed Bill Chen as its Canadian sales manager and officially opened its first local office in Toronto. Chen will be responsible for managing the channel relationships around Aten’s KVM products, in particular its Six Star VAR program. Ingram Micro Canada joined that program last October, while Synnex Canada signed up earlier this month.

The driver for Canada has really come from end user perspective,” according to Chen, who said potential customers have been contacting the firm about its product line.

“(Small and mid-sized enterprise) was a niche that was kind of a void before we entered the picture, especially in the KVM space. There were some on the low end, entry-level and some big players in high end, but no one really with that foothold in between.”

Aten’s product line includes traditional KVM switches that allow network managers to consolidate the number of monitors on their desktops, but it is increasingly moving into remote management and connectivity over Internet protocol. These products are designed to allow network administrators to manage dozens of clients simultaneously and to reboot at the BIOS level, if needed.

“KVM over IP is something that always comes up with customers. It’s something they’re hoping to do in the very near future if they’re not already doing it,” said Chen, though he admitted the growth has not been as quick as it has in the United States.

Venture Development Corp. in Natick, Mass. estimates worldwide markets for KVM Switches to exceed US$888 million by next year, at a compound annual growth rate of 12.5 per cent. Spyros Photopolous, a VDC analyst, said IP-based KVM is driving much of that growth.

“Most people buying KVMs right now considering IP implementations because of the flexibility it offers,” he said.

Aten has a fraction of the market share enjoyed by larger rivals such as Avocent and Raritan, Photopolous said, adding that KVM over IP may not be enough to set it apart from its larger rivals, such as Avocent and Raritan.

“The tier one guys already have pretty good portfolios in that domain,” he said. “What’s more than likely to happen is that the smaller guys get bought out.”

Chen, who once worked at Avocent, said the notion of saving real estate in the network environment continues to be a major opportunity for Aten. He pointed to recent launches such as the KL1116 Hideaway LCD KVM Switch, a 16-port unit that allows administrators to access more than one computer from a single 15-inch or 17-inch display.

“People really like that integration with the LCD console,” he said.

Aten’s Canadian resellers include SoftChoice and CDW.

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