3Com looks to enterprise, preaches stability

Newly installed 3Com country manager, Bruce Cossill, has pinpointed enterprise as a major focal point in its quest to become a true competitor to networking giant, Cisco Systems. But several partners have questioned the move, claiming the vendor's best chance of success was still in the mid-market.

Speaking at the 3Com Enterprise Partner Summit last week, Cossill said the vendor had put together an enterprise team to drive lead generation and sales with large corporates. "We need to move up and work in the enterprise space," he said. "The key message today is that there's every reason why we can go up against Cisco and every reason why we should." But Cossill stressed the new team would not sell direct.

"My commitment is to make 3Com grow quickly and in support of what the channel is doing," he said.

Several partners at the event questioned the grab for enterprise market share, pointing out that it had historically been strongest with SMB and mid-market customers.

LAN Systems national sales manager, Leigh Howard, said the vendor's sweet spot was the mid-tier which, unlike the saturated enterprise space, lacked a leading vendor.

He said this presented 3Com with a golden opportunity.

Cossill has a long history in the IT channel having co-founded distributor, Imagineering, in the 1980s as well as Tech Pacific. The fourth 3Com country manager in the past three years, he said the constant change had been unsettling for partners and customers. But with an overhauled US management and a settled channels team in Australia, the key message this year was stability.

As part of its sales push, 3Com officially rolled out its Focus Partner Program in Australia. First announced globally in December, the new program calls for specialisation requirements across four product areas: enterprise LAN, telephony, wireless and security. Product access would be limited to reflect these certifications. Channel director, Dean Vaughan, said the program was designed to recognise the individual skill sets and diversity of partners. As a reward for achieving gold or silver status, resellers would be entitled to a rebate of up to 4.25 per cent, as well as marketing development funds. Existing resellers would move across to the new program during the next six months, Vaughan said. A partner assessment was scheduled for September.

Nadia Cameron travelled to the Gold Coast as a guest of 3Com.