With software vendors shouting the virtues of middleware, it is not surprising the connectivity market is becoming a crowded one. For Sydney-based distributor Unitract Systems it is also a lucrative one.
The company recently signed an exclusive distribution agreement with US-based TCP/IP developer Esker for its Tun PLUS product line, and is supporting it by rolling out a reseller assistance program. The Tun Communications Partner (TCP) program is designed to assist resellers in sale of TCP/IP solutions based on the Tun PLUS product set.
Unitract managing director David Bilbow says eight resellers are already involved, but he is looking for around 20 partners Australia-wide. He says the program is more suitable for companies involved in systems integration. "They really need to be in the business of connecting networks to hosts of some description."
Bilbow says the program is highly resource intensive from Unitract's point of view, with four training programs each year, sales and technical training, inhouse use of the product, pre-mium technical support, and a regular news- letter. "So we're trying to be very selective in who we actually have in the program. And those eight that we started with are actually eight that we targeted, and said these are organisations that we feel fit the profile." There is also a loyalty program that can be turned into cash or products, and resellers get access to Unitract marketing collateral.
"The whole philosophy behind this is that Esker has recognised worldwide that if they work closely with their distributors and pump all of this information to their distributors they do better numbers. So this is just filtering it down to another level."
Make a commitment
The only commitment Unitract requires is a one-off fee of $995. "Now the $995 doesn't go anywhere near the cost of the program at all," says Bilbow, "it just ensures the reseller is making some sort of commitment to us. And as soon as they make the commitment we give them $3,000 worth of software and about $5,000 worth of training in the year."
One reseller to take advantage of the Tun PLUS product set is LapTop Land. Managing director Derek Merdith says middleware solutions such as Tun provide another revenue stream above simple hardware sales. "People think we're just a retailer, but we're not. Most of our business goes into corporates, so we do a lot of integration and development work rather than just flogging boxes."
The ideal marketplace for LapTop land is sales force automation, says Merdith. "They want to dial in remotely to their host, and a lot of people don't see that there is a solution for that. By doing this with digital phones or with land lines means the reps can get connected directly, which is something they had perceived wasn't possible."
Merdith says the Tun products give LapTop Land the ability to compete on something other than price alone, and often provide the necessary "glue" to pull a solution together. "If we don't have that, then all we're doing is competing on price and being nice guys to the customer. So if we can provide the software, then that can drag the rest of the business through. If we're not providing a solution then all we're doing is providing boxes, and it's just a case of who can respond quickest and with the sharpest pencil."
MultiSoft is another company integrating Tun into its Unix-based financial and wholesale distribution solution. Managing director Mark Stanley says MultiSoft has standardised on Tun as its TCP/IP terminal emulator for Ethernet connectivity, as well as utilising Tun's Mail and SQL products. "Our product has got an Informix back end, so Tun SQL actually gets in there and rips it apart beautifully. So the full range of products fit in with exactly what we've got, and Unitract and Esker's support is excellent, the product is excellent and it goes - it does everything it's supposed to do."
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