A value-added distributor has begun looking for several dozen Canadian VARs to carry NEC‘s high-end servers, storage and software products.

Avnet Partner Solutions is to distribute

NEC’s Express Itanium 2 servers, Xeon-powered Fault Tolerant Servers, storage and ExpressCluster software, the company announced this week.

Dave Ochser, director of business development for Avent’s enterprise storage software division, said number of VARs the company is aiming to recruit here is “”in the two-dozen, three-dozen range.””

The candidates won’t be restricted to partners who are already in the Avnet stable, he added. “”Our goal is to talk to the top resellers in Canada,”” he said.

In picking partners, Avenet wants to avoid concentrating NEC resellers in regions to avoid conflict. Conflicts will also be avoided through a deal registration program. It is also looking for solution providers who have expertise in industry verticals.

It’s one of two distributors the manufacturer has chosen to carry its line as it abandons direct sales of hardware in favour of the channel. The other, chosen several months ago, is Pittsburgh-based Team 1 Systems Inc.

As part of its strategy NEC revealed a three-tier partner program this week for those chosen by Avnet and Team 1. According to Mike Mitsch, NEC’s director of alliance and system integrators, the company wants to encourage and reward VARs for offering integration and installation services of its products. However, it or Avnet will offer some professional services for resellers who can’t or don’t want to provide them.

The Express Partner Program starts with Authorized partners, who only sell hardware and software but have to resell NEC installation services; Gold partners, who sell and do installations; and Platinum partners, who not only can sell and install but also can be certified to perform break-fix services on NEC’s behalf.

Platinum partners also benefit by having named support staff personnel with NEC. Only Gold and Platinum partners are eligible for co-op funds. There will also be some marketing funds available for partners.

Avnet and Team 1 will be responsible for demand generation programs.

“”We are clearly not on a strategy to saturate the market with resellers,”” said Efrem Stringfellow, the vice-president for North American sales at NEC Solutions America.

Until NEC switched to the all-channel model, about 20 per cent of its hardware and software sales were sold direct, he said.

To show how serious it is NEC will help fund staff in Avnet and Team 1 to work exclusively on the partnership, he added.

NEC is positioning the products under this program as complimenting and not competing with the servers and storage VARs already sell. For example, Mitsch stressed that some servers use NEC’s Vector supercomputer architecture. That should help persuade customers of the hardware’s value.

The servers are aimed at what he called high growth markets, including those with high availability demands, high performance database needs and disaster recovery applications.

However, he said that to help partners sell the manufacturer’s list price has been set to be “”closely aligned”” with street price.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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