System Builder Jumps The Pond To Sell Collax Linux

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This quarter, the 80-employee Freiburg, Germany-based system builder, which operates a U.S. office in Baltimore, will begin selling Collax Business Server-based systems stateside.

Bill Rohrs, president of Pyramid Computer USA, said he has a successful Collax business in Europe and the market is wide open for another SMB player in the U.S., where Red Hat and Novell have dominated on the Linux side and Microsoft has dominated on the Windows side.

Pyramid Computer provides product support and logistics for branded business server solutions. The system builder sells and supports multiple platforms including Windows, but has been in the Linux business for nine years and sold Collax solutions for two years. The firm now believes the time is ripe for another Linux solution in the U.S. SMB space.

Pyramid develops systems for OEMs and ISVs and hopes to build its own network of VARs, even as it relies on Collax's expansion efforts in the U.S., Rohrs said.

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"Collax has built distribution and partner relationships in the U.S. and our work is to support them and put [Collax] product on the shelves," Rohrs said. "We think there's a unique opportunity to build a partner network in the U.S."

Collax develops the Collax Business Server for SMB, Collax Open-Xchange (OX) groupware server and Collax Security Gateway. Pyramid will focus its efforts on the Collax Business Server, Rohrs said.

Collax, Munich, Germany, has been trying to make inroads into the U.S. and has set up its U.S. headquarters in Boston. On Oct. 10, Collax named Christopher Ackley to lead its U.S. channel sales team. Collax also has signed two as-of-yet unnamed distributors, sources said.

Pyramid's Rohrs acknowledges that Linux has sold more heavily into the appliance market than the general purpose business market. Still, he believes that the Collax Business Server has increasing appeal to business customers. "Linux is entering the mainstream and it's not just for geeks, but for business," Rohrs said. "Maybe not on the desktop yet, but certainly there's a market in databases, security appliances [and] remote access solutions for compliance management and for a whole host of application solutions."