While 1997 could be the year of pan-European distribution agreements for servers, there are still obstacles to overcome. The addition of Ingram Micro to IBM?s RS/6000 distribution channel looks set to ruffle the feathers of Big Blue?s long-established distribution partners.
In December, Ingram signed a pan-European deal with IBM designed to enable European resellers to use Ingram as a single point of contact. The broadliner has already set up its RS/6000 business in Spain, France, Belgium and Denmark.
Peter Craine, director of IBM distributor sales in Europe, said: ?Resellers are increasingly demanding a one-stop shop for IBM products and services. We are working with pan-European distributors such as Ingram Micro to meet this need.?
The vendor is in talks with other European distributors, such as C2000, to explore the possibilities of more pan-European agreements. Diane Oubridge, AIX sales manager, said: ?Those resellers who work on a pan-European basis will probably want to do business with distributors who operate the same way.?
While this is a long-term statement of intent, it demonstrates IBM?s European intentions.
Ingram?s signing comes some two years after IBM established its RS/6000 channel with Bytech and CST, now Sphinx CST. Ken Moss, Bytech MD, feels there is a possibility that Ingram will be taking advantage of the preparation work done by the existing channel and is wary of other pan-European deals.
?The market can cope well enough with three distributors, but more than that could start to erode margins. The preferred way to find new customers may be to target existing RS/6000 users,? he said.
Distributors will be trying to ensure there is a level pricing playing field across Europe. As things stand, this is not the case, and pricing benefits can be obtained from currency exchange rates. Some resellers may find it makes sense to buy RS/6000 kit in another country, not via their distributor. While Ingram has the set up to cater for this sort of demand, others do not.
Geoff Gates, Ingram Micro RS/6000 business manager, said a degree of competition is inevitable. ?We were appointed to grow the business for IBM. If I don?t find new business, I?m not doing my job.?
IBM came late to the distribution model, but has used it well enough for the RS/6000. If it is to hang on to the loyalty of its channel partners, it may need to tread carefully when pushing further into Europe. If the market becomes over-distributed and margins fall, IBM could find a de-motivated channel making less of an effort to sell RS/6000 kit, regardless of geographic concerns.
Today saw 14 of the UK IT channel's biggest hitters come together to determine the winners of CRN's WiC awards. But what does being a WiC judge actually involve? Doug Woodburn reports
'Smaller firms may struggle to keep up with Microsoft's innovation with Dynamics' says CEO Stuart Fenton after acquiring assets from Profile Enterprise Solutions
Pete Peterson admits the firm hasn't always been the 'easiest company to do business with'
New chief exec Aaron Painter says 'longer-term strategy' could see firm tackle the Asian market