Having laid its multi-vendor cards on the table with an announcement that Xerox was now on its price list, former HP-only integrator Centari Systems last week pulled a "big blue" ace from its sleeve in the form of IBM.
According to managing director Jon Johnston, as an IBM reseller, Centari's sales force will now not only be able to bid for existing IBM channel traffic at the big end of town, but also introduce additional solutions to its traditional mid-range markets.
"We see a good fit across our entire range of customers," Johnston said of commercial desktops, Intel-based workstations (Intellistations), notebooks (Thinkpads), and file servers (Netfinity) which it is now reselling in addition to product from Hewlett-Packard and Xerox.
"We almost never see IBM in our core marketplace, which is the 100- to 1000-seat type of customer. It is our perception that other resellers are not selling IBM into that space.
"IBM is doing most of its business at the big end of town - 5000 seats and above - and at retail. Wherever their market share is coming from, it is not the area that we are competing in."
Johnston said there is definitely demand for IBM in "mid-range" organisations and huge potential in what Centari has proven to be a very lucrative market. In the past, with HP, it has only come up against IBM in about "one or two out of 10 deals", he said.
"They all know the brand, but nobody is coming to them with it," he said. "We feel that being able to offer IBM product will make customers have a closer look at us."
A major benefit from its new partnership is being able to introduce IBM's strong notebook range which Johnston rates as being "very good". "We have never had a very good notebook offering. Historically, HP's notebooks haven't been as good as IBM's," he said.
Johnston didn't want to reveal the targets that have been set for IBM sales but he does "expect IBM sales to be a significant part of total revenues in six to 12 months".
Johnston is confident that growth of IBM revenues will be "in addition to current HP sales" rather than at their expense. "Certainly there will be slower growth, but we don't see any HP business dropping off," he said.