Channel Helps Compaq Land Workstation Deal With Avid

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Avid Technology is an avid fan of the channel.

The Tewksbury, Mass.-based provider of video-editing solutions for film and television has formed a strategic alliance with Compaq Computer. Under the deal, which has an estimated annual value of more than $17 million, Avid will use Compaq's Evo Workstation W8000 as the platform for its video-editing systems.

But without distribution partner Avnet Applied Computing Solutions, Phoenix, and integration partner Amherst Corporate Sales and Solutions, Merrimack, N.H., Compaq would have been hard-pressed to win the Avid business, said Ken Miles, director of business development at Avid.

"Our customers are very demanding and can't afford to be down," Miles said. "In North America, they are used to two-day turnaround times. Avnet and Amherst stock preconfigured systems, and they are used to the tight time frames."

Avid's North American distribution partners must be able to ship configured product quickly to multiple locations, including to Avid, its resellers and its customers, Miles said. "Loyalty [to distribution partners is important, and quality is important," he said, adding that Avid "didn't want to introduce any more complexity" by having products shipped directly from Compaq. "If something's not broken, don't fix it," he said.

Amherst stocks Avid inventory for just-in-time shipping and adds third-party products to systems such as monitors and video cameras, said Tony Perfilio, senior account manager at the solution provider. "There's no way Compaq Direct could provide that," he said.

Avid's specific service and delivery needs required the involvement of channel partners, said Ken Bagley, area vice president at Avnet Applied Computing Solutions. "Avid expects us to manage rev levels, configuration control, just-in-time delivery, availability of consignment inventory and other services that we provide that they are more than willing to pay for over and above what they could have gotten from Compaq," he said. "Compaq, in their belief, couldn't do the kinds of things that we provide for them."

Avnet helped swing the contract to Compaq after longtime partner IBM discontinued the workstations Avid needed for its video-editing systems, said Jim Milton, vice president and general manager for North America at Compaq.

"Avnet brought us into the deal," Milton said. "This is a complex deal and illustrates the value of Compaq's hybrid distribution model."

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