Advantech uses channel as guide in new waters

Advantech uses channel as guide in new waters

Advantech's network computer group is poised to sign a distributor within the fortnight to push its new network attached storage appliance out to resellers and the market.

With its roots in electrical engineering, Advantech started building networking gear two years ago when the IT and Internet space exploded and overtook its traditional markets. Acknowledging its late entry to the game, it recruited heavy-hitters from the likes of Alcatel and HP and went to market with packaged server products. Its range has since expanded to include plug-and-play firewall appliances (some with Check Point software on-board, others empty) and network attached storage. Its line of blade servers, showcased at Computec in Taiwan earlier this year are expected to arrive before December.

"Advantech is clearly a tier-two supplier," said Steve O'Brien, NCG sales manager for Advantech and a former Compaq and Alcatel recruit.

"We're not professing to be an IBM. Advantech is for customers who are prepared to consider a higher value proposition and take a risk on a lesser known brand."

O'Brien said the company is prepared to sacrifice margin to gain marketshare in the initial phase. "You can always claw back margin in other ways like services and customer configuration," he said.

The products are SME focussed rather than enterprise, due more to the holes left in the market by other brands than its technical ability to run big and complex operations, according to O'Brien. They come with two-years warranty, return to base and 24x7 on-site support can be arranged via a third-party provider but incurs additional fees.

O'Brien said the company is under no illusion that it can break into the market without the assistance of the reseller channel and it hopes to lend a great deal of credibility from its distributor, who O'Brien declined to name until the deal is complete. "We're new to the IT channel industry so we see [signing a distributor] as a way to set up a relationship with a known entity."

Meanwhile, Advantech is pursuing OEM possibilities with white-box assemblers and O'Brien said re-branding is likely to become one of the company's major revenue streams.

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