Ideal Hardware's hopes of becoming a 'soup-to-nuts' Microsoft distributor were given a boost with the launch of QuickQuote, an automated software licensing desk, last week.
The launch came hot on the heels of Computer 2000's (C2000's) licensing online scheme in January, which automates Microsoft licensing for resellers (CRN, 26 January).
Ideal hoped to steal a march on C2000 by claiming QuickQuote is the channel's first multi-vendor licensing tool. It currently handles the licensing programmes of Network Associates, Veritas, Seagate and Computer Associates, but will be expanded to "all major vendors" within six months.
Although Ideal is a Microsoft distributor for OEM sales, the volume licensing contract is not included in its portfolio. Ideal hopes QuickQuote will change this, according to Mark Johnson, vendor relations manager at Ideal.
"We've been talking to Microsoft and it's no secret that we want it," he said.
Ideal's move was welcomed by Adele Knox-Roberts, Microsoft's distribution sales manager. But she said QuickQuote did not guarantee Ideal's place in Microsoft's volume licence channel when contracts are renewed in June.
"It is expected that all distributors will be offering these services in six months. It's a sound initiative, but the idea will live or die on its execution," she said.
Johnson said QuickQuote automatically advises resellers of the most cost-effective licensing programme for users, as well as informing VARs of when licences are due to expire. Linked to Ideal's enterprise resource planning system, QuickQuote also generates on-demand monthly sales reports for resellers.
He said the scheme will reduce the headache resellers face in ensuring their customers are not breaking the law, a task he said was currently "nigh impossible".
Doug Fawell, operations director at reseller Software Catalogue, said QuickQuote would take the administration "nightmare" out of licence sales, but said selling Microsoft was a "pre-requisite" for any serious licensing player.
Andy Dow, general manager of marketing and e-commerce at C2000, said it was ready to add vendors to Web licensing in the "very near future", starting with Novell and Symantec.
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