Recent problems with the distribution of Intel's LANDesk management suite have caused a lot of strife among resellers. Yet it took Intel almost four months to realise its new distribution system wasn't working as well as it should have been.
In experimenting with a one-stop-shop distribution model that saw Platinum Technology take over the complete sales, distribution and support of the enterprise management package in Australia, the vendor hoped to provide a more "active distribution model" for its LANDesk technology. But, instead of praise, Intel and its new distributor attracted the channel's anger.
John Perkins, managing director of Sydney-based Balanced IT Services, explains it was not the product availability, but Platinum's sales practices that proved an insurmountable obstacle for LANDesk resellers.
In the case of Balanced IT, the problems started when Platinum's Sydney office advised Perkins' company it "would not be able to buy the product unless it agreed to resell a large amount of LANDesk software per month". The proposed alternative was to allow Platinum to sell the software directly to Balanced IT's customers. Not willing to do either, Balanced IT contacted Intel, only to be told that "Intel had nothing to do with the product anymore" and that Platinum was the only distribution option available to resellers.
And with the situation now revolving around a " very edgy customer", a frustrated sales team and a question-mark hovering over his company's independence in providing LANDesk-related services to the market, Perkins was bitter.
"For a long time, Intel was pushing its LANDesk management suite through resellers and, over time, we've skilled ourselves up in [servicing] the product, allowing us to sell a lot of it to various customers in the marketplace," he said.
"But Intel is now saying to resellers to buy the product through the process proposed by Platinum, who is effectively our competitor. That means that we've go to go back to our customer and say 'sorry, but we can't help you anymore', because it would be crazy to give your customer to a competitor."
Denying Perkins' claims, Lincoln Jay, regional director for alternative channels at Platinum, is adamant the sales of the Intel LANDesk management suite in Australia have always been based on the channels-only model.
"I have absolutely no knowledge of any resellers ringing and complaining to our company," Jay told ARN, emphasizing the direct sales model was "contrary to [Platinum's] sales procedures".
But a conversation with a Platinum employee has revealed that what might be a noble clause in Platinum's sales theory does not necessarily correspond to the company's sales practice, that involves "trying to sell direct to any customer who requires further services with the product".
However, customer poaching should not be an issue for long, as Intel has acknowledged that distribution problems exist and is about to reorganise its channel once again, redirecting the product through some of the previous LANDesk distributors, such as Tech Pacific and Express Data.
"We've realised that there are some competitive issues to be taken into account when it comes to distribution, as a number of large resellers and VARs prefer to buy through normal distribution channels," Archie Wilson, Intel Australia's national sales manager said.
Wilson revealed Platinum will continue to sell the product, however the old distribution channel should be "reactivated" within the next three to four weeks.
"In the meantime, any reseller who would like to have immediate access to the product can contact me and Intel will be able to supply the product directly out of the US whilst we're in the process of putting a supply chain in place."
The question is, of course, whether there really was a need for it to be "removed" in the first place.
"That was a model that we 'trialled' in order to limit the amount of distributors, because LANDesk is a very complex piece of management software that requires a lot of technical support and Platinum had the capacity to provide that support."