Shortly after opening its first Australian office, ATM vendor Fore Systems is moving quickly to stitch up distribution channels for its backbone and workgroup network offerings. ADE Network Technology, headquartered in Melbourne with outlets in Sydney and Canberra, and Camtech Information Technology Consultants in Adelaide, have signed as distributors of Fore's backbone products.
Fore Australia's managing director, Steve McRae, says Fore is choosing "industrial strength" distributors with offices around the country for its backbone switches. They may be augmented by other appointees with regional or vertical market strengths, said McRae.
He adds that a lack of understanding of ATM technology in the Australian marketplace means that a certain degree of education is still required. "What we don't intend to do is blast this product out to all and sundry. The market isn't ready for that, and certainly it's just not productive to do that. All you do is put margin pressure on your channel," he said.
As part of its marketing strategy Fore has also implemented a series of seminars designed to continue the ATM education process. "Each one will address a different topical area in the ATM environment, to bring up the level of awareness. And obviously we will be working with our resellers in terms of training."
McRae said that much of this education is simply to make people aware that ATM has come of age. "We have to really work with the marketplace and make them aware that ATM as a technology has moved from the early adopter phase into mission critical applications. That hasn't happened yet in Australia, but it's happened in Europe and in the US. So there's work that needs to be done with the infrastructure to have them understand that this is a technology for today. I hear from a lot of people who say ATM's not ready yet. That's completely untrue."
Fore will also be supported in Australia by existing corporate partners Cabletron and Nortel, McRae said. In the workgroup arena, Fore has appointed Sydney reseller One World Systems, which was Australian distributor for the Alantec range of LAN products before Alantec merged with Fore last December. Fore's ATM and Ethernet workgroup range will be distributed through One World's network of VARs and systems integrators including CoCam, Cray Communications and Logical Solutions. "If we look at our backbone product, with those types of products you're selling infrastructure. People are going to be building their networks on ATM for the next five, 10 or 15 years, so you have to have a different class of organisation to sell that. We will put in place what I class as an industrial strength distributor - somebody who has a branch office throughout Australia, and is selling directly to the end users."
"The model calls for us to be actively involved with our resellers, and working with the resellers and end user to provide that feeling of support and comfort. I think that's a fairly common business practice, and it also allows us to work and understand the marketplace. We don't want to be sitting up on a pedestal wondering what's going on down there."
McRae says that since finalising its takeover of Alantec early this year Fore Systems holds 85 per cent of the workstation ATM market and 65 per cent of the ATM switching market worldwide.