While many vendors are fumbling with their channel models, visual reality systems vendor SGI is seeking to expand market penetration by broadening its reseller base, using brand power as collateral.
SGI is taking its reputation in state-of-the-art visual and virtual reality systems out for a spin, expanding its traditional multimedia and manufacturing pastures for the hotspots of oil and gas seismic re-creations, telecommunications and financial organisations.
Alan Ryner, SGI channel manager for Australia/NZ, says the mining companies that opted for the SGI "reality centres" have increased accuracy of well/pocket strikes from 20 to 80 per cent, and decreased research periods from three months to six weeks.
"It's about communication around data sets. It's like the systems use consolidated brainstorming to solve a real-world problem by manipulating large amounts of data and visualising it," says Bill Trestrail, managing director of SGI local operations.
Meanwhile, SGI is looking to scale these high-end solutions down into subsets of $4000-$5000 workstations suitable for small and medium verticals, and is actively recruiting new channel partners to do so. "We're engaging resellers for markets we can't get into," says Ryner.
The hardware vendor is proudly touting its stringent vetting process, which serves a two-fold function of avoiding price wars between competing resellers and ensuring parties are technically apt in the products. Ryner says part of the reason SGI signed with distribution house Alstom IT was to manage the vendor's 100-plus value-add distributors and resellers. The vendor is determined to stay open minded about the sort of partners it will take on however, stressing that "nobody has a monopoly on good ideas".
The data-crunching ability of Linux has made it a popular operating system for visual and data asset management, a move SGI is consciously catering to, says Bill Trestrail, SGI managing director.
"Linux is how we see ourselves coming out into the broader market place," says Ryner. "We'll be driven ultimately by solutions, and resellers drive the solutions."
Trestrail says that unlike UNIX, which was broken off by vendors and morphed to specific and incompatible brands, application builders are trying to preserve the "open" nature of Linux.
As well as putting feelers out into new sectors, SGI will be doing some work in its own backyard. The manufacturer owns 5-10 per cent of customers in its core creative sector, leaving massive room for improvement.Photograph: Alan Ryner, SGI channel manager Aust/NZ