Alcatel insists the announcement that its Asia-Pacific operations are to be headquartered in Shanghai will not have a negative impact on the local channel.
According to channel services company LAN Systems, sole distributor of products for Alcatel's Internetworking division in Australia, it is definitely business as usual.
Nick Verykios, LAN Systems' marketing manager, believes that it makes sense for Alcatel to headquarter in Shanghai because of China's huge growth potential. He said many economists were predicting strong economic growth in China.
Talking more generally about Alcatel's product lineup, Verykios said its Internetworking division (IND) was very strong because it rides on the back of what had been achieved by networking vendor Xylan. Xylan was acquired by Alcatel last year, and LAN Systems had distributed Xylan products prior to the acquisition.
Verykios said Xylan had been `a strong player in the enterprise area traditionally and in the last 18 months made inroads into the SME area with new scalable products.'
In the networking arena, Verykios believes Alcatel will move towards greater formalisation of its channel programs. He said Alcatel's IND and LAN Systems would be working closely together on accreditation programs, to provide something similar to what the vendor's competitors offered, with resellers becoming certified specialists trained to support IND products.
Verykios said in the future he saw an expansion of resellers and network integrators who were vertical specialists offering a greater range of products to their customers.
Country manager for Alcatel Internetworking Australia Bob Jackson said the announcement that the Asia-Pacific headquarters was moving to Shanghai was very positive. `We're going to have considerably enhanced support, which is something resellers have been asking for.'
Jackson added the decision would not have any effect on the channel in Australia. He said Sydney would become an area of expertise with centralised training and services based here. Alcatel currently has training facilities in Singapore and the US and wants to bring that capability to Australia.
Talking more generally about Alcatel's channel programs, Jackson said the vendor's profile in the market was increasing and resellers had been asking to go more deeply into the training and accreditation process.
Jackson said it was currently working on expanding its channel program. `We're continuing to define the focus as we want to be more relevant to our resellers and our clients.' He said it had been in consultation with both its resellers and end users about the programs it offered, and was looking at its capabilities to deliver that.
According to Jackson, Alcatel's previous focus had been successful for its voice technology resellers. However, with increasing crossover between voice and data, a number of resellers had been interested in gaining additional skills. He said it was trying to provide programs which would allow the seamless provision both to the market and the channel.
Ron Spithill, Alcatel's Asia-Pacific president and managing director, said establishing the Asia-Pacific headquarters in Shanghai was a market-driven strategic decision. `There is no change in Alcatel's commitment to and business activities in Australia.'
Spithill will be based predominantly in Shanghai where he will head the expanded Asia-Pacific operation, but will maintain an office in Sydney.
Alcatel is predicting there will be strong growth in the Asia-Pacific region during the next three to five years. As part of its new initiative, it will also be expanding its manufacturing activities in China.