Vendors and network integrators fight it out over the large accounts - servicing small business is the bread and butter work for smaller network resellers. Such is the way of life. With many PC dealers unwilling to learn about more complex network environments, there has always been work available for dealers with the capacity to add some value to plugging two computers together.
But just as it seems life is becoming simple, the whole marketplace is set to be opened up with a new range of small-business oriented networking products.
The release of Cisco's pre-packaged services now makes it easier for PC resellers with a modicum of knowledge to support their client's networking needs as well. While they will still need to have some degree of networking nous, the ability to "outsource" areas of support back to the vendor takes much of the risk out of selling network hardware.
Now we also have Bay Networks teaming with Tecksel to push its Netgear range out to the SMEs. Netgear director Patrick Lo even acknowledges that there are simply not enough network resellers to cover the potential. Hence Bay and its distributor will try to train up as many PC dealers as possible to meet the hoped-for demand, as they strive to take network penetration from 15 per cent to the 80 per cent penetration rate held by PCs.
With Harvey Norman finally making a serious play into the networking arena, and most vendors dead keen to get their products out through as many outlets as possible, it seems it is time once again for network resellers to look at how they can add value and sell that to their customers. Undoubtedly, as vendors work to open up new marketplaces there will be opportunities for all. The key to success will lie in keeping your head above water in the flood of new competitors.
As Netcomm's Chris Howells warned (ARN, May 14, page 1), a post-deregulated telecommunications industry could also lead to increased competition in the reseller marketplace.
It ain't getting any easier.
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