Fedex will announce officially next week that it will buy 50-60,000 IBM network computers.
That news came from one of four of IBM?s preferred suppliers of NCs, Memorex Telex. Memtel also confirmed today that General Accident's massive IBM NC contract - brokered earlier this week and the largest European deal of its kind to date - was fulfilled by Computacenter, even though Memtel tendered for the job.
David Mills, group marketing director of Memtel, said that Computacenter offered ?cheap prices combined with good warehousing facilities? and Memtel could not compete on that basis.
But IBM is still uncertain how many of its partners will fulfil the Fedex contract, prompting questions in the channel over how serious it is about putting NC business through resellers.
Said Peter Jacobs, marketing director of IBM?s network computing division: ?I can neither confirm it or deny that Fedex will order these. I can?t comment on behalf of our customers before they decide what to do.?
Partners are calling for IBM to clarify its policy on channel sales of NCs. Just before Christmas last year, Derek Ashmore, chief salesman of NCs at IBM UK, said that a huge deal was being compromised because its customer did not want a channel partner but to be served direct.
Mills commented: ?One of the issues for customers, I believe, is that IBM still is not up to speed to deliver NCs. There are pockets of expertise in IBM but they can?t necessarily deliver the infrastrastructure customers want."
He went on: ?When you install NCs you need a multitude of skills with different platforms including 3270s, AS/400s, RS/6000s and PCs.?
Fedex refused to comment on the deal, set to happen next week in the US. Nor would the company say what its current IT strategy and how NCs and PCs would fit together within that.
Computacenter refused to comment on any aspect of the deal.
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