Intel is to introduce a range of networking services next month that will allow its partners to offer vendor-fulfilled product installation and support.
NetStructure provides a range of support options from per-incident packages to full on-site support. Resellers will also be able to buy phone support from an Intel specialist during installations. Intel will even perform network installation and testing on the reseller's behalf.
Mark Weeks, networking services manager at Intel, said: "We are serious about the networking market and want to make a very good job of it. This is just the first phase."
Mike Chandler, proprietor of Intel reseller VG Installations, which does not currently have its own networking resources, said the scheme is a good idea. "It allows smaller resellers to take on networking opportunities they would normally have to turn away," he said.
Otherwise, Chandler said, small resellers face the cost of hiring a networking specialist and then hoping to find the business.
Intel partners that already have a services business viewed the move as a mixed blessing. Derek Allen, managing director at Comtech, said it would be useful to compensate for the peaks and troughs of business which occasionally leave him short-handed, but added that it might allow box-shifters to enter the market. "They can just write out the purchase order, and back it all off to Intel," he said.
David Coleman, LanWorks' technical director, said increased competition might make it harder to win new business, but said: "I'd be more worried if Intel was a bigger brand in high-end networking. Then ISPs (Internet service providers) could use this to offer on-site networks. At the lower end, customers don't really consider buying their networks off an ISP."
Weeks conceded that established Intel partners, capable of installing and supporting networks, will face increased competition from resellers taking advantage of these services. "But NetStructure support services will be sold only through the channel, and will increase the number of partners able to offer networking products and services," he said.
Intel will introduce the programme to its partners at six channel conferences across the UK this month. The services will be available from 8 May.
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