Novell has appointed Stream International as its new product fulfilment centre, in response to incumbent distributor Com Tech's decision to take on network integration.
While Com Tech's new broadline distribution division, Express Data, will continue to distribute the product, Novell resellers now have an alternate line of supply.
Novell Asia Pacific vice-president Arthur Ehrlich says the decision was made in the light of dissatisfaction from Novell's resellers that Com Tech's new model will see them ordering product from a competitive company. "Our NetExpert resellers were not happy about that relationship at all, because they see Com Tech as a major competitor, and they don't see why they should be funding the Com Tech distribution company who will in effect transfer product at favourable rates to the Com Tech reseller organisation. So they really asked us if we could provide an alternate purchasing point, and we've done that."
Stream International's Outsourced Manufacturing Services division provides manufacturing and fulfilment services such as disk duplication and sub-assembly for IT vendors such as Microsoft, IBM and Novell. The appointment is the extension of an existing relationship between the two companies, as Stream already processes orders for Novell's PE 64 government contract.
Sales director Mark Miller said Stream will receive, process and ship orders from resellers, but all product will be warehoused on Novell's premises. "Traditional distribution is going to be changing," said Miller. "We've never been in traditional distribution and won't be; we've always had fulfilment services. So this will be an extension of the fulfilment model that we have in place for Novell already." The appointment of Stream represents the first alternative to Com Tech since Merisel's takeover by Tech Pacific earlier this year. Novell has already put a front-end help desk in place at Stream to take technical queries from resellers, and Ehrlich says a 1800 number will be available soon, as will a private number for NetExperts.
Ehrlich said Novell would have been happy to continue with Com Tech as its sole distributor, but the new arrangement made this impossible. He said that while Novell is happy to maintain distribution through Express Data, this will remain under review. "We've had a good long relationship with Com Tech, and they have never done anything to cause us not to do business with them. So as long as they can maintain a separation from their distribution model and their reseller model we have no problem with that. If our resellers come back and tell us that they are being disadvantaged because of this arrangement in the marketplace then we'll have to re-evaluate our position with Com Tech as a distributor."
Ehrlich said Com Tech will now have to go through the same accreditation process as all other resellers to achieve NetExpert status. "I would say they will go through even a more rigorous investigation.
We have to be seen to be very even handed in this regard. We can't let the resellers feel that we're giving the Com Tech reseller arm any advantage or special favours. We're dealing with them exactly as we deal with the rest of the marketplace."