A slew of big-name vendors - including EMC, Cisco and AMD - have made moves on the SMB channel this year and announced plans to head downstream.
The latest addition is workspace management vendor RES Software, which announced an update to its channel and product strategy earlier this month to help partners break into the small business market.
Grant Tiller, senior product manager at RES Software, admitted that theSMB market is one the vendor has been guilty of neglecting.
"It is an area of the market that, in the past, we have not given the attention we should have as we have focused on enterprise," he said.
Chris Hammans, UK regional director of RES, cites the growing demand from SMBs for desktop transformations as a key factor in the decision.
"A lot of large organisations are holding off on Windows 7 migrations, for example," he explained. "And yet, hospitals, schools and local government, which we class as SMBs, are adopting Windows 7 and addressing the desktop a lot more."
With this in mind, the firm has repackaged its Virtual Desktop Extender (VDX) product - which is part of its flagship desktop personalisation Workspace Manager suite - as a standalone tool aimed at SMBs.
The newly patented product aims to allow users to run applications that do not typically work in virtual environments, and RES is on the hunt for SMB resellers to take it to market.
Hammans said he expects the number of UK partners on the firm's books to double this year.
"We have 15 proactive resellers, and one of our distributors has a breadth of resellers in the Citrix, Microsoft and VMware community, who are typically best placed to provide our kind of solutions," he said.
In support of its recruitment ambitions, the company has also rejigged its partner programme to create a separate channel stream for Authorised partners that wish to focus on VDX.
"We have effectively lowered the accreditations bar to make it easier for VARs to become Authorised RES partners, because there are distinctive markets that we want to attack through the launch of VDX," Hammans explained.
"There are resellers out there that focus on the SMB market that may not have become RES partners. This is a way of addressing that."
Authorised partners that want to become RES Gold and Platinum partners will be encouraged to make the step up, added Hammans.
"We expect some resellers to sign up to focus on selling to the SMB market and have a programme that will enable them to do that," he said.
"Others might want to sell into the enterprise market later, which is fine, and we would always support partners that want to be promoted to Gold and Platinum level."
Nigel Woods, technical director at RES Gold partner Intercept IT, said VDX will create upselling opportunities for new and existing partners.
"It is a separate product now, and that opens up the market for VDX as many customers do not require all the features included in Workspace Manager," he said. "It can be used by partners as an entry point to upsell to the full product later."
Martin Lulham, managing director of RES Gold partner M-Tech Systems, said his firm already sells RES products to SMBs, but doubts its recruitment plans will cause much conflict.
"I really do not see it affecting us, as they will probably be targeting resellers that already sell a competing vendor's products and have their own customer base," he explained.
"The product also fills a specific technical gap, and not all of them will decide to branch out into selling the rest of the Workspace suite."
Talk it up
Oren Taylor, director at RES distributor CDG UK, said he hopes the
vendor will lean on the patented VDX technology to gain ground on its rivals.
"One thing RES has suffered from in the past is lack of exposure in the market," he said. "AppSense has similar products and has been extremely vocal with its sales and marketing activities.
"But, with VDX, RES has technology that other vendors do not have access to and they really need to start talking about it more."
This is a view shared by Tony Lock, programme director at analyst Freeform Dynamics.
"Building their profile is their biggest challenge, and to do that they need to communicate what their products do and why they are an essential part of the desktop management and transformation process," he said.
RES' Tiller said marketing is an area in which the vendor has invested heavily. As a result, it plans to appear at more trade and end-user shows this year and step up its lead-generation activities.
"We realise that our biggest competitors in the market are not other vendors, but organisations choosing not to replace their desktops and upgrade to new technology because of budgets," said Tiller.
"Instead, people are waiting for products to be out of support, or for a piece of hardware to fail, to force change. We need to make deploying new technology more attractive to people, to get them into the transformation process earlier."
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