Frontline diversifies

Frontline diversifies

Traditionally a dedicated Sun Microsystems reseller, Frontline Systems has signed new agreements with HP and Hitachi Data Systems to expand its portfolio beyond Unix-based systems.

While marketing manager Greg Rickard is quick to point out that Frontline is not in the business of "badge collecting", it is keen to reinvent itself as an IT services provider that can offer a variety of products and services.

Subsequently, Frontline signed an agreement with Compaq just prior to it being acquired by Hewlett-Packard. Originally purchasing the product through Express Data, the reseller has now set up a direct relationship with HP for the supply of server and desktop products. "Most customers have both an Intel and Unix strategy these days rather than just Unix," Rickard said.

This week saw the reseller add another vendor, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), to its storage portfolio to complement its Sun business. In the past Frontline has sold large Sun StorEdge 9900 series systems that are based on HDS architecture, but the new agreement sees the reseller take on the smaller HDS-branded Thunder 9200 device which is in strong demand among medium-sized businesses and at the departmental level among large enterprises. "We felt it was important to have a heterogeneous solution for storage," Rickard said.

The reseller is not necessarily going to move any fewer boxes, Rickard said, but its revenue mix is set to change as services and software take up a greater share. He believes the new focus for the company is already paying off. After recently completing a $2 million software and services deal with Telstra, Frontline has been called back in to the telco for a $750,000 fulfilment and services contract that involves the supply of both Compaq and Sun Microsystems hardware.

"Broadening our scope means that we can be a single provider for our customers," said Rickard. "It will also help us with our margins."

At the same time, Rickard is aware that other companies (such as Solution 6 and Powerlan) are jumping out of systems integration and IT services in general right at the time that Frontline Systems is jumping in. That does not dampen his enthusiasm. "As a company we are very fiscally responsible," he said. "We don't build a team and wait for the work. We are also a private company that has control over what it does, and we intend to be around for the long term."

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