As far as the channel is concerned, it?s ?hats off? to Microsoft time. The launch of the Net Results 97 initiative on Internet and intranet opportunities means a big deal for both resellers and distributors.
For starters, Microsoft?s distributors will stand to do nicely from it. Ingram Micro alone is expected to shift 600 units (at #234 a pop ? that?s a handy chunk of business), while Microsoft expects at least 2,000 units in total to be sold within the next couple of months, bringing in extra business and goodwill to distribution partners like Datrontech, Metrologie and Osmosis.
?It?s not just what they gain from marketing Net Results,? said MS distribution sales manager Geoff Wright. ?When we did the NT4 Net Results programme, our distribution partners found that they started doing a lot of extra NT sales. In that case, we pulled a lot of Novell resellers into the NT market. The Novell guys had not been confident enough to get into NT previously, but we said here?s a no-risk way for you to get the technology in-house and up and running. As a result they started to sell NT.?
Alan Griffiths, sales director at Computer Supercentres, said: ?You have to be able to play with the product hands on. Without the Net Results programme we wouldn?t have touched Microsoft Windows NT. Now we?re selling more Windows NT than Novell.?
Microsoft is hoping that these Trojan Horse tactics will work equally well in the Net market, although the focus of the campaign in this case is less well-defined. Resellers with expertise in the Web server and Internet markets have tended to be Apple and Sun dealers, notoriously loyal chaps, although Netscape Suitespot and Novell Intranetware resellers may also be tempted to give the Net Results package a try.
Wright thinks it will mostly be resellers with little Web expertise, but a hunger for Internet opportunities that will snap up Net Results 97.
For any reseller, this #199 (plus VAT) package looks like excellent value. More software than you can shake a stick at, regional training seminars and two free server support incidents (to be serviced out-of-house by an Hewlett Packard technical support group) are included.
On top of that there?s a Net access package, with a six-month home page hosting thrown in.
Microsoft?s not even being parochial about this, choosing Uunet Pipex as the access provider rather than it?s own MSN service. A source close to the company said: ?They were going for the cheapest connection cost, and Uunet Pipex offered a better deal than MSN. That?s what you call hard-headed reality.? Possibly also red faces time at MSN.
The programme also reaffirms Microsoft?s faith in the channel as one of its biggest strengths in fending off all its ferocious rivals in a world gone Java and network computer mad. Unlike leading players in this brave new world, Microsoft puts loads of money into its channel to train resellers and boost demand through distributors. Money buys loyalty and stimulates market growth.
Jan Lawford, marketing director at CHS, thinks the programme will spark off other initiatives and give dealers a competitive advantage. ?We have specifically designed additional marketing programmes to augment it, giving added value to the reseller,? she said.
After all, who in the channel is going to argue with a company that wants to offer you a cutdown sampler of its wares and a low-cost training opportunity? Especially in an area that dealers desperately want to learn about and nobody else is offering them the opportunity to learn so cheaply. Adrian Gale, managing director of Metrologie, goes so far as to claim: ?There is no better way for a reseller to develop their Internet/intranet business.?
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