-- The networking market got even more congested last week with the long awaited and belated entry of communications giant Lucent.
While Lucent officials told ARN that it would rely heavily on the channel to help it make up for lost time, other observers believe that, at least initially, Lucent will fight with a direct sales force and it's own professional services organisation.
"They're initially going to want to be successful at the very high, lucrative end of the market, and to succeed, they're going to have to go direct," said Gartner Group senior analyst Mitch Radomir.
He believes that only after it has established itself there, will it make serious forays into other markets, which require it to have strong channel relationships.
Indeed, group president for data networking and business communications systems Bill O'Shea boasted at the Lucent launch that it's own professional services organisation would be a key differentiator for Lucent.
"We will bring a new level of reliability to data networking. The traditional data networking vendors have gone to market through distributors and resellers, so they don't have the service and support culture that we have," he said. Lucent would design, install and run customer's networks, he said.
Local officials however rushed to douse down any suggestions that the company would not be a channel-friendly player.
Bruce Bennie, manager of business development for the new data networking division admitted Lucent would deal direct "in a competitive situation where we are forced to play that game". However, it wanted to "minimise" the amount of business it did direct, he said.
To that end, Lucent will aggressively recruit distribution, integration and reseller partners.
"We're talking to a number of people and we've already had a number of organisations ringing up wanting to do business with Lucent," he said.
Additionally, Lucent has inherited channels through it's numerous networking acquisitions and investments. For example, Melbourne-based Lidcam already distributes the Livingstone remote access range of products while Westcon was a worldwide distributor of Lucent's recently acquired Gigabit switch vendor Prominet.
Even Lucent's professional services will be to the resellers benefit, Bennie claimed.
"Not a lot of resellers have the level of expertise that we will have within their own organisations, so we can provide the post-sales and pre-sales support they require."