Alstom scores Australian SGI rights

Distributor Alstom IT has beaten SGI's North American distributor Ingram Micro by winning the sole right to distribute the high-end hardware vendor's new range of Windows NT and Linux workstations and servers locally.

This is the first installment of a local channel strategy by the previously direct vendor and is, according to Graham Lloyd, business development manager for Alstom, the start of a new market push.

"SGI has moved to the channel model in order to address a wider market than it could with its own sales force. It is fairly unique in the graphics market but comparatively new in the broader NT and Linux space. It needed a new channel to open this up."

SGI managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Greg Sitters, said "this is the first time we have had a family of products that suit this type of distribution model. NT and Linux are part of a wider market than the relatively small and narrow Unix market we usually operate in."

The immediate goal is to grow Alstom's NT and Linux business to about $1 million a month, said Lloyd, who claimed both SGI and Alstom hadinvested heavily in these spaces.

"We've put a fair effort into supporting and growing the NT and Linux space and we wanted to bring on board another major manufacturer, so this seemed perfect." The deal will also move Alstom into the previously foreign graphics territory.

According to Sitters the channel program will offer its partners the "usual co-operative marketing and lead generation services" as well.

For SGI the partnership presents an opportunity to establish itself in markets it has little presence in through its resellers, with Sitters identifying SMEs, the finance sector, CAD users and the geographical information systems market as prime targets.

"The market is moving to NT rapidly, and what was once dominated by Unixis just as likely to be NT or Linux. We needed to get into a position to take advantage of these market trends."

Although the contract is not exclusive, Sitters said SGI has no intentions "in the near future" of signing on further distributor partners. This will give Alstom sole distribution rights to SGI's Windows-based 320 and 540 visual workstations; SGI's Internet Server and the Advanced Cluster Environment for Linux; the Intel-based SGI servers for NT or Linux (such as the SGI 1400, and SGI 1200), and the SGI 1600SW flat panel monitor; SGI storage management solutions and in the future, a range of Intel-based Linux visual workstations.

SGI also recently signed on reseller partners such as Harris Technology and Sunrise Computers for its NT and Linux products, but Sitters suggested that they will be encouraged to go through Alstom rather than operate under a one-tierdistribution model.

SGI also have about 45 Unix resellers that deal directly with the vendor, though Sitters is hoping to convince Alstom to enter the Unix market as well.

"My medium term goal is to shift our Unix desktop operations to the channel model. We'll see if Alstom is interested," he said.

According to Lloyd, Alstom was chosen to undertake SGI's channel initiative because of its commitment to adding value, its appropriate reseller contacts and its complementary range of products.

"We have credit management services, pre-sales technical support and quite a range of other products. What appealed to SGI was our ability to sell a total solution," said Lloyd, who believes its other server products do not compete with SGI's unique offering. "We sell NEC, HP and Acer servers but SGI addresses a slightly different market, they're more high end, high reliability."

Many of Alstom's resellers have built a presence in the Oracle enterprise data management market and in the iPlanet Internet, e-business and business-to-business markets, praised sitters.

Lloyd predicts that within four weeks Alstom will have reduced delivery time from four weeks to two days.

"We'll have our first stock in about four weeks time and because we are going to keep an inventory, we'll be able to del-iver faster. SGI always had to source their product from the US," explained Lloyd.