Ideal is hoping to shake up the distribution market by setting its sights on the networking arena, and plans to sign a major vendor in the coming months.
In an exclusive interview with CRN, Don Bell, chief executive of Ideal's parent company, Bell Microproducts, said the firm already has a foothold in the storage, security and software markets.
"We are not in the networking business. Ethernet and networking - that's next," Bell said. "There are two ways to get there: grow the business or make an acquisition. We are considering both of those."
Graeme Watt, president of Bell Microproducts Europe, told CRN this is something the firm has already started working on. "We have had discussions with a few [networking] vendors," he said.
"We tend to work with market leaders. Whoever is leading, we want them to be partners."
Watt added that it would be "impossible to ignore voice and data convergence", as part of the firm's networking strategy.
Simon Hill, director of UK product distribution at rival Azlan, part of Tech Data, said Ideal's storage focus makes the move into networking a natural step.
"Ideal has a strong, recognised storage focus, and it is only natural with the emergence of IP for it to look at networking," he said.
"[But] Ideal's core strength and market presence has not been within data networking, so it will be a challenge to establish this."
Bell's move mirrors a similar step by distributor InTechnology, which previously specialised in storage and announced last year that it was widening its base into networking. The firm recently announced that it has added IP telephony to its range of managed services.
Steve Pearce, chief operating officer at InTechnology, said: "One thing about getting into the networking arena is that it is very competitive, high-volume and low-margin. It is a tough market.
"We found that storage and security were coming together on the network, so it was a logical decision to get into this market."
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