The limitations of broadline distributors were highlighted again last week when Computer 2000 (C2000) said it would pull out of the high-end server market and sell its Compaq-Alpha enterprise business.
The move comes just weeks after Ingram Micro UK sold its Unix division to German distributor Magirus. C2000 is in discussions with at least three parties to offload the UK Workstation 2000 division.
Graeme Watt, UK and Nordic regional managing director at C2000, refused to admit that the company's failure to profit from the enterprise business reflected a shortfall in expertise.
He claimed that the "perfect scenario" would have been to get onboard several mid-range vendors, including Hewlett Packard (HP) and Sun Microsystems, but said once it was clear these vendors would not "come to the party", the investment in the division could no longer be justified.
Vendors, including HP and Sun, "had some concerns about the ability of a broadliner to deliver value", he said.
Watt suggested that a sale could take place within the next two to three weeks. Other vendors in the Workstation 2000 portfolio, including Compaq StorageWorks, Informix, Seagate Software and NCD, will be absorbed into other divisions.
Nick Offin, director of the partner business unit at Compaq, said C2000's workstation sale was a decision "wholly taken by C2000" and that Compaq does not see it as a major blow. He hinted that C2000 was only a distributor because of its long-term relationship with Digital. "We won't be looking for an immediate replacement for C2000," he added.
Chris Sarfass, product marketing manger at Sun, said: "It shows that companies can't address the same market with multiple products and multiple operating systems."
Mark Walker, systems and enterprise director at Ideal Hardware, said he was surprised at the decision as Compaq was putting so much investment in its high-end systems. "This isn't the time to pull out," he said.
However, Walker added: "C2000 are an efficient volume player but not an enterprise player. They have accepted their limitations, which is quite noble of them."
First published in Computer Reseller News
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