As Exabyte prepares to roll out its new channel plans with a focus on the storage area network market (ARN May 26, page 8), a cloud hangs over the distribution model for the storage and backup hardware vendor.
According to Lucas Mueller, Exabyte's Australasian regional manager, its distributors are Sealcorp/1World, Alepine Peripherals and Datastor.
But the current relationship between Exabyte and its original Australian distributor, Storabyte Solutions, remains unclear. Following the appointment of a receiver in February, Storabyte Solutions has, according to its principal Bill Williams, ceased operating as a distributor, and is in the process of realising its assets. This includes some Exabyte stock.
Williams himself is now working as the Southern region manager for Datastor Australia, which distributes a range of storage products including Aiwa, Quantum, Sony, Tandberg and Exabyte.
The company began in 1989 as Exabyte Solutions, the distribution and repair operation for Exabyte Corporation, and changed its name to Storabyte Solutions in March 1997 after the vendor established its own subsidiary office in Australia.
Shortly after this, Exabyte appointed another distributor, Alepine Peripherals, and then at the start of this year appointed 1World. And with the addition of Datastor Australia, the vendor had established a four-pronged distribution presence within two years of arriving in Australia.
By his own admission, Williams acknowledges that, after being the sole representative for Exabyte while it established Australian market share in the tape back-up market, the arrival of an Exabyte office and other distributors meant a change in his business outlook. It was obvious that competitive pressure from the other distributors would lead to lower margins and that it was not viable to be an exclusively Exabyte specialist.
Williams said that it took too long to establish a sales base of other vendors products, and has elected to join up with a company further advanced down that line. "It makes sense for people to not place all their eggs in one basket, vendors or distributors," Williams said.
Meanwhile, according to Mueller, Exabyte is still determining which resellers it will be partnering with for its "NetStorM strategy", the logistics of support and how its existing distributors fit in.