Cheyenne Software last week dropped two of its seven partners, Frontline and CMS Peripherals, in a bid to bring back better margins. According to Cheyenne, CMS lacked the volume and Frontline lacked focus.
Frontline has suffered several hiccups to its networking vendor line-up, but the knock-back from Cheyenne came as a shock. Only six months ago the distributor beat rivals to win Cheyenne's Highest Revenue Contribution award for fiscal year 1995. While last year Frontline was Cheyenne's darling, this year, having pinched its storage manager Pauline Davies, it is out of favour. Not surprisingly, Frontline was disappointed. Frank Salmon, CMS Peripherals MD, said he was unperturbed by the change but thought it was an unusual move on Cheyenne's part to dismiss Hewlett Packard's biggest secondary storage distributor.
All the distributors acknowledged Cheyenne needed to cut its channel. One source said: 'Cheyenne had to ditch some distributors because no one was making any money so no one wanted to sell its software. Frontline was a big mover of product, but Cheyenne wanted to be more support-orientated.' Frontline contributed to its own downfall as its volumes had slipped and it failed to replace Davies who left last October.
Cheyenne has also restructured internally. Over the last nine months it has hired six staff to look after the channel, where previously it was run by just one member - former distribution manager Karen Runacres.
Paul Dunford, Cheyenne MD, is trying to ensure there is one policy which co-ordinates reseller and distribution activities. He intends to combat margin decline by pushing all of Cheyenne's products, particularly Arcserve for NT, not just Arcserve for Netware, which sells itself.
It's more than just a coincidence that Cheyenne is keen to cosset the channel just as rival Seagate Software has strengthened its presence by buying up Arcada, which is presently number one in the NT market. One channel source said: 'Perhaps Cheyenne is worried Seagate is snapping at its heels.' Dunford denied Seagate was a threat. 'They're number one in NT for now, but that just means they're there to be knocked down.'
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