Australian resellers and integrators are responding to the warning from direct vendor Gateway that they must "get very big or get out of hardware fulfillment".
Gateway Partners manager Tony Hughes has revealed that 20 channel businesses have already signed up to the program, with 50 more having discussions with the direct vendor just 8 weeks after it was launched.
According to Hughes: "We've been swamped with enquiries from the channel community about the program."
Hughes said that three of the early partners include multinational outsourcer and system integrator Origin IT, value added reseller Balanced IT Services (BITS) and network integrator Intec.
Yarro Bailey, practise manager of Origin's Professional Services division, explained that part of his business includes totally managed desktop outsourcing, and described the partnership with Gateway as an "agreement that integrators can work with.
"We go in to sell a totally integrated solution while Gateway adds value to the process by focusing on the hardware, and we still get part of the hardware revenue," he added.
BITS sales director Stephen Grundy said that he believed in partnering with organisations to achieve the best outcome for the customer, and that, as an independent VAR, he felt there was the potential for great synergy in the program. BITS has already completed two deals involving Gateway.
"After the process of qualification and evaluation, partnering with Gateway in a deal also eliminates the possibility of any conflicts of interest that may arise with other tier one or two hardware vendors that offer other competing services," he added.
Ron Wall, managing director of Intec said it has already used Gateway in 15 sites. He described the program as a genuine partnership, and with well-priced reliable equipment, meets his company's objective to work in the best interests of the client. "Their focus is hardware, and ours is to ensure the client is happy . . . We make money out of services," Wall said.
Hughes said there is an expectation from customers that the reseller makes great money from the hardware and wants the services for free. "With our model that expectation is gone," he added. Instead of a margin, the partner earns a commission of between 3 and 10 per cent, and the commission is paid to the partner on any future hardware sales.
He said that the program encourages the partners to sell their services profitably and gets them out of the situation where they have been forced to cross-subsidise services or throw them in for free.
"Just last week," he said, "a Queensland-based channel organisation enquired via the Gateway partners Web-site, applied to join, was approved and sent its client's order for 30 systems, all in a period of two days."
The partner can say, "You're dealing directly with Gateway for what they do best, and with us for what we do best".
The way Hughes described it the program helps channel partners generate revenue and profitability for services. "If your core business is not low margin hardware fulfillment, outsource that component to Gateway. That's our core business, we do it really well and we support our own equipment extremely well and you're not going to lose deals by partnering with Gateway," he extolled.
At the launch of the partners program eight weeks ago, Gateway indicated it wanted to have 25 partners signed up and operating by Christmas. Just over halfway through that time frame, it already has 20.