The past two months have seen a number of mid-range and high vendors launching programs to move their products through channels. Hitachi Data Systems, Fore Systems and SAP have unveiled strategies to push either existing or new product sales through the channel.
So to has Cray Communications. Normally known for its high-end consulting services, Cray is seeking to promote its range of low-end workgroup access and Ethernet switching products through interested resellers.
And there is an added attraction, with resellers also gaining the opportunity to sell Cray's range of high-end products, including voice and data integration and wide area network solutions.
Cray has already appointed Digital Networks Australia as a distribution partner, and is looking to appoint another. Channels manager Rowan Curry said criteria for selection include skill level and reputation in the marketplace, as well as specialisation in the types of solutions they provide. "That was largely our reason for choosing DNA, in that they are kind of a niche distributor who supplies all sorts of different things that may be difficult to get elsewhere, and they back it up with a lot of good support."
Curry said Cray is also seeking approximately four or five value added resellers, and will be seeking certain levels of expertise in its appointees. "The VARs will be expected to take on the products in their own right, so they've going to often go down to the level of engineering training as well. Obviously when things start off we're going to hold their hands and assist in design and engineering.
"The goal is that they will hold certain amounts of stock, that they will have the skillset to promote in their own right. The difference is they get access to some of our higher-end products. That sort of product does not lend itself to mass distribution off the shelf, because you've got to design, install, configure, and maintain it."
"It's obviously very difficult to come in as what I'd call late to the marketplace, and that's why we've really looked to target specific distributors and VARs, people who have a name and reputation, who see value in our product, and are going to assist in promoting it. That's a huge turnaround for a company like Cray in Australia to do."
Prior to this move Cray had not distributed its low-end products in Australia. "Globally our company is set as both a vendor distributor and an integrator. In fact our model in Asia is only through channels. In Europe we do a mixture of both integration and channels, while in the USA it's channels only. And Australia/New Zealand was rather unique in being integration only."
Hence Cray spent a three-month period in analysing what it needed to offer the market before launching its program. "The reason that we had not pushed the products too heavily was after analysing the market we realised we needed a totally different approach. We had a culture in our company that was obviously geared towards systems integration. We needed to create a new culture, or at least a division, that was seriously focused on dealing as a vendor and a manufacturer."
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