Distributor EquIP has parted company with vendor Equiinet after 12 months as it targets the higher end of the market.
The distributor has removed Equiinet's NetPilot server appliance, which provides internet access, caching and security appliances in one system, from its portfolio to focus on the high-end appliance market.
"Demand for this type of appliance is growing in the small to medium sized enterprise [SME] sector but it does not match our heavy focus on the high-end," said Graham Smee, director at EquIP.
"We are [concentrating] on appliances from vendors such as NetScreen and F5 but will still sell NetPilot on a project basis."
EquIP said it would continue to support all resellers which have purchased Equiinet products through the distributor.
Equiinet founder Bob Jones maintained that the split was amicable and in the interests of both parties. "An organisation the size of EquIP can only focus on a limited number of lines and it has decided to go with other manufacturers," he said. "We want distributors that can focus heavily on our product."
IDC analyst Thomas Meyer agreed that appliance servers such as NetPilot are ideal for the SME market due to ease of installation and use.
"The commoditisation of these products has meant that SME demand has grown, with companies such as Equiinet building specific server boxes and selling them to the SME through resellers," he said.
But recent research from IDC found that a lack of understanding of these appliances is holding back the uptake. A survey of European IT managers showed that 50 per cent of respondents had either not heard of or did not know what appliance servers were.
"The appliance server market has not been pushed to end users because it has not been in the interest of the major vendors to promote them," said Meyer.
He added that the market had grown in Europe among the smaller vendors because they have worked with the channel.
"Multifunction appliances have been extremely successful in Europe, driven by dedicated local players and directed at the SME market, and this upturn is expected to continue," he concluded.
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