Smaller VARs are preparing to battle for a piece of the government's £6bn IT procurement framework.
Procurement body Buying Solutions splits the deal into three lots: desktop hardware, infrastructure hardware and software. Hardware lots will each be addressed by 10 suppliers while the software component requires "specialist channel partners".
The contract will provide technology for use across varying branches of the public sector. The contract notice intends "to attract a wide and varied supply base including specialists, niche suppliers and SMEs."
Scott Fletcher, chief executive of VAR ANS Group, claimed public sector supply had become increasingly commoditised but maintained smaller channel players could still get grab involved.
"When (reseller) Probrand got in, they became a much larger company," he
"It depends where they set the bar for pre-qualifications, but financial stability and technical competence are as important as size."
Tom Gutteridge, strategic development director at integrator Damovo, praised the "exacting criteria" of Buying Solutions frameworks.
"We are accredited under other frameworks and can see the benefits these have brought to public procurement bodies," he said.
But Shaune Parsons, managing director of VAR Computer World Wales, claimed the contract's intention to work with just 10 suppliers on the hardware lots was "to the detriment of SMEs".
VARs can bid until 28 August and the framework will operate an online tendering process. The contract notice "reserves the right" to host a reverse auction.
Parsons criticised online auctions and claimed resellers' stock changed more quickly than the procurement process allowed for. He added: "Different councils want different things and often nobody actually wants the core products you have to advertise."
Fletcher added: "Reverse auctions might work for pencils and biros but, for IT, it is not the right way," he said. "The cost of ownership is in how you manage the kit."
Highlander MD Steve Brown tells CRN about the skills he learned on the pitch and brought to the boardroom
Reports suggest Dell is pursuing a straightforward IPO, contradicting existing plans to buy out tracking stock holders
Analysts predict upturn in PC market next year, but 2018 to remain plagued by components shortages
Neil Sawyer claims he has 'never seen so many conversations about a new method of investing in workplace technology'