Fightback '09: Mixed bags of goodies

Good news from the channel

Good news flowed in the channel again this week with a blend of positive business predictions, impulse shopping, new partnerships and lucrative Government contracts.

While a number of companies have tightened their proverbial belts and chopped staff to pre-empt a plunge in earnings, ASX-listed communications vendor, NetComm (ASX: NTC), is expecting a significant increase in profit and revenues for 2009.

In a profit guidance release to the ASX, the vendor aired its prediction of a full year profit of between $5.8 and $6.3 million, up from $0.6 million in 2008. Revenue is expected to be between $75 and $78 million, up from 2008’s $19.4 million.

“We’re selectively investing in expansion into new international markets and increased penetration into new domestic commercial markets,” NetComm managing director, David Stewart, said in the release.

Another company optimistic about the future is Fujitsu, who has splurged on another big purchase.

On the back of its Kaz purchase last month, Fujitsu has acquired Supply Chain Consulting in a move to boost its SAP capabilities.

“Our goal is to be able to go after business effectively in any area,” Fujitsu chief executive officer AN/Z, Rod Vawdrey, said. “Our enhanced SAP capabilities will help us to actively participate in extra avenues of business with the new customers opened to us.”

Vawdrey has indicated Supply Chain Consulting’s 160 staff in Australia will be retained. While this acquisition seems like the start of a shopping frenzy for IT supplier, Fujitsu has stated that the company already has its hands full with two purchases and is not looking to buy anymore.

Rather than going on a shopping spree, APC has chosen to focus on enhancing partner relations. The vendor has tossed out its old partner program in favour of a refurbished scheme aimed at differentiating partners within the channel.

The company’s Pacific channel sales manager, Bart Mascorella, said the previous program was too simplistic and did not explain to customers the different attributes between APC partners.

“Rather than just being aligned to revenue numbers and tier status that doesn’t have a significant difference, APC wants to identify partners through their ability to develop or design a datacentre environment,” he said.

Meanwhile security vendor, Palo Alto Networks, has made the decision to build its partner network down under by signing Lan 1 as its first Australia distributor.

Based on Single-Pass Parallel Processing Architecture, the vendor’s signature product is a suite of firewalls that allows administrators to see and control 800 applications, users and content.

Lan 1 manager of IP security business, Christo Simeonoff, said it was the application awareness and granular control that Palto Alto offers which appealed to the distributor.

While Lenovo may have won NSW Department of Education and Training (DET) $110 million mini-laptop tender (netbooks), it was IBM’s turn to shine by nabbing the DET wireless connectivity contract.

The $70 million deal will see Big Blue implement centrally managed wireless connectivity for student netbooks across 463 secondary schools over the next 12 months. It will be designed and built on an Aruba-based wireless solution leveraging the DET’s existing investment.

On another Government deal, ICT recruitment firm, Peoplebank, has signed an On-Hire Labour Agreement with the Federal Government, giving it a streamlined process for hiring international contractors under the 457 visa program.

As part of the contract, Peoplebank is permitted to recruit overseas staff for enterprise and government clients to work on specific projects that have skills shortages.

While there may be sensitivities involved with offshore hiring, Peoplebank COO, Peter Acheson, claimed the Government's looming National Broadband Network (NBN) plan, which is slated to add 25,000 jobs in the ICT sector, would also need overseas hires to help fill skills gaps.

If you have a craving for good news, keep watching ARN Fightback, your weekly dose of optimism.