Although Com Tech's incarnation as a network integration company is only one month old, it has already created a shake-up in the industry. Com Tech has secured new business in at least three locations, and, in the process has upset a number of competitors.
John Hassett is general manager of information communication services at one of these sites, the NSW-based GIO. He says his company opted for Com Tech on the basis of its previous dealings with the distributor, as well as endorsement from Cisco and other referees.
"We reference-checked them pretty vigorously," Hassett said, "and Cisco gave them a very sound endorsement. We already had had a prior relationship with them, so we were aware of their overall professionalism. We're also working closely with Cisco in the same arrangement, so it's a genuine partnership arrangement implementing these new pieces of hardware that we're introducing to the network."
Com Tech managing director David Shein says sites such as GIO are typical of where Com Tech will operate. "If it's a top corporate or government account our guys will be in those accounts. We're looking at the top corporate and government accounts - the top 200 accounts. GIO would be a typical customer profile."
The deal has caused some disquiet among other Cisco resellers, although due to ongoing business concerns none were willing to place their concerns on the record. In particular, a source who requested anonymity, said that Com Tech put in its bid for the GIO contract after the official closing date, and that the company's bid was in excess of some of its competitors.
On the issue of the Com Tech bid being a late one, Hassett said "That's not entirely right. They've been dealing with some of our joint- venture partners for quite some time on the same issue, and our implementation plan involves a national approach. They weren't a last-minute inclusion." He said that dialogue had been held with Com Tech on a state level, and they were included in the bid when it was decided to give the project a national focus.
As for price, Hassett says the Com Tech offering was highly competitive. "Price is always a consideration and it's always part of the assessment process - it's got to be a cost-effective solution. But it's certainly by no means the only criteria. It's no good getting the cheapest bid and it not working.
"It was a close call, there were probably one or two other vendors who probably could've done a very effective job as well. But at the end of the day you've got to back one of the solutions and run with it.
"When we're implementing technology solutions we're open to assessing what's available on the market," Hassett said. "We're looking for proven solutions and people with a proven track record of getting the job done. If we're implementing a new piece of hardware or software and someone comes along and presents a very sound business case that they can implement the solution more effectively, then I'm interested."
Going for gold
Back on the Cisco front, there is some disagreement over Com Tech's role in Cisco training. Cisco requires its resellers to have a certain number of accredited Cisco Certified Integration Engineers on staff to qualify for margin relief on product, something for which Com Tech has yet to qualify. Cisco managing director Scott Ferguson says that, while Com Tech is an accredited Cisco reseller, it has not achieved the Gold level required for margin relief.
According to Shein, in the time since the announcement of the changes, Com Tech has already put seven people through Cisco training, and is now only awaiting lab training in the US for full accreditation as CCIEs. Speaking about the relatively short training period, he said "We have guys who have a lot of router expertise. I think once you support one router I believe that the learning curve to support a second one is not as big a jump, so as I say we were very happy to have all the guys pass."
Ferguson's response to such a short training cycle was "I think it's very uncommon", and suggested the training period started earlier than Shein says. "Bear in mind they started training some considerable time ago," he said. Shein was adamant that this was not the case.