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Novell appoints fourth distributor

The gloves are off in the battle for bragging rights following Novell's appointment of Tech Pacific as the networking giant's fourth Australian distributor.

Tech Pac joins Express Data, LAN Communications and Sealcorp as a Novell distributor - but is this a case of distribution overkill, pitching the two largest distributors in the country against each other?

Novell Australasia's managing director Cliff Smith doesn't think so. He says Tech Pac was selected because of its national reach, particularly in Western Australia.

"Tech Pacific is an important and complementary addition to our distribution network and this signing ensures Novell is offering a truly national and competitive distribution model," he said.

Tech Pac will distribute Novell's entire product range, encompassing IntraNetWare, collaborative products such as GroupWise, and network services products like Novell Directory Services, Border Manager and ManageWise.

Express Data's general manager of marketing Ross Cochrane says the move won't impact on his business, but he does have concerns for the smaller players (LAN Communications and Sealcorp).

However, Sealcorp general manager Chris Spring disagreed, stating the distributor is far from being in the firing line.

"Tech Pacific and Express Data compete in the same space. Our model is one of a solutions distributor," Spring said.

"I see little or no effect to us. I see the effect between Tech Pacific and Express Data."

He predicts three months of "blood letting" between Tech Pacific and Express Data before a single victor emerges in eight to 12 months' time. He says the competition will bring margins down.

Cochrane also doesn't believe the Australian market can sustain four Novell distributors.

"Four distributors is now the same number as Microsoft has. It [Microsoft] has a very large business and is currently cutting back on the number of distributors," he said.

Cochrane believes Express Data has the "vast majority" of Novell business and it will take some time before Tech Pacific catches up with it.

"Tech Pacific has a stronger presence in retail space. Our focus has always been on corporate and government resellers. You might find resellers will buy from Tech Pacific in some instances. However, they can get a better all-round offering from us."