Ideal Hardware's desire to become a Microsoft volume licensing distributor wasgiven a boost last week following its launch of an automated software sales desk.
The announcement of QuickQuote followed the launch of Computer 2000's licensing online scheme in January, which automates Microsoft licensing for resellers.
Ideal hopes to steal a march on Computer 2000 by claiming that QuickQuote is the channel's first multi-vendor licensing tool. Ideal handles the licensing programmes of Network Associates, Veritas, Seagate and Computer Associates, but will be expanded to all major vendors within six months.
Although Ideal is a Microsoft distributor for original equipment manufacturer sales, the volume licensing contract is a notable absentee in its portfolio. The distributor hopes that QuickQuote will change this, said Mark Johnson, vendor relations manager at Ideal. "We've been talking to Microsoft," he admitted. "It's no secret that we want it."
Adele Knox-Roberts, distribution sales manager at Microsoft, welcomed Ideal's initiative, but said QuickQuote does not guarantee Ideal's place in Microsoft's volume licence channel when contracts are renewed in June. "It is expected that all distributors will be offering these services in six months. It's a sound initiative, but the idea will live or die on its execution," she said.
Johnson said QuickQuote is an intelligent software tool that automatically advises resellers of the most cost-effective licensing programme for users, as well as informing resellers of when licenses are due to expire. Linked to Ideal's enterprise resource planning system, QuickQuote will also generate on-demand monthly sales reports for resellers.
Johnson said the scheme would reduce the headache resellers face in ensuring their customers are not breaking the law, a task he said is currently "nigh on impossible".
"Licensing was a dog's dinner. Being able to buy just one vendor's licensing portfolio over the web was no use whatsoever."
Doug Fawell, operations director at reseller Software Catalogue, said QuickQuote would take the administration nightmare out of licence sales, but said selling Microsoft is a pre-requisite for any serious licensing player.
Andy Dow, general manager of marketing and ecommerce at Computer 2000, said the distributor is ready to add other vendors to licensing online in the very near future, starting with Novell and Symantec.
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