Unisys is risking channel conflict with its plan to establish an indirect model in Europe alongside its direct sales force, in a bid to become a leading player in the midrange server sector.
The server and services company has appointed Hall-Mark Global Solutions, a division of Avnet, to recruit application resellers and systems integrators in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Switzerland to sell its Aquanta ES servers across Europe.
XKO Network Systems, the systems integration division of XKO Group, has been named one of the first UK resellers. A maximum of 30 partners will be recruited in each country to ensure "a high degree of exclusivity", Unisys said.
Iain Davidson, vice president of computer systems at Unisys, said it had opted to go indirect because it has no presence in some markets.
He conceded that it was a gamble to sell direct and through resellers, but said there were many areas in which Unisys' direct sales force did not operate.
Davidson claimed Unisys rewarded its sales staff for passing on certain opportunities to Vars because it allowed them to concentrate on the multimillion pound deals, and argued that having only 30 resellers would limit conflict.
"I don't think there are many markets in Europe where there is a danger of us falling over one another. Also, we pay our sales team more if business comes through the channel rather than directly. If we manage the relationship well, there should be little conflict," he said.
Davidson added Unisys is also unconcerned about conflict over service revenue because its service contracts are much bigger than those normally chased by resellers.
He also defended the decision to work with Hall-Mark, claiming the distributor added value instead of just pushing product: "Hall-Mark knows how to approach resellers and that's what we want. We want to focus on value."
The move drew mixed reaction from resellers. Keith Green, managing director of XKO Network Systems, said it will allow the company to provide enhanced support.
But John Keown, managing director of Obotech Systems, said the revenue opportunity was unclear as Unisys' server range is not recent and resellers may find themselves competing with Unisys for services. "It will depend on what is being offered," he added.
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