Enterprise Opportunity

Tech Data's new business unit to focus on high-end NT server solutions

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Tech Data plans to launch a separate enterprise business dedicated to high-end Windows NT server solutions.

The new venture, as yet unnamed, should start operating in May or June with the goal of helping solution providers shed their reliance on PCs in favor of more complex,and higher-margin,products and services.

The distributor introduced the program last week at its Tech Data Connection event for solution providers, held here. The news generated a buzz among attendees.

Bazzone: Partner response is "exciting endorsement" for Tech Data's direction.

"The response is an exciting endorsement for the direction we're taking," said Terry Bazzone, who will lead the new unit as vice president and general manager of enterprise business.

Several solution providers said they were already playing in, or considering, the NT server space and Tech Data's new structure will make it easier for them to increase that business.

"That's a huge change for the way we want to move forward. Pushing PCs is not the answer. You need something else," said Mark Schaeff, president of Yeo and Yeo Computer Consulting, Saginaw, Mich.

"We're definitely trying to push more services, and we want to use high-end servers as the add-on," said Joe Spampinato, president of Computer Marketplace, Staten Island, N.Y.

"Support levels from manufacturers can be hairy. I'm excited there's a program to help us at another level," said Richard Wedel, sales manager at Micro System Engineering, a Houston-based solution provider.

The enterprise business could segue into Unix opportunities, Tech Data executives said, but NT represents a better initial foray into high-end solutions for the distributor.

"We sell Unix in Europe, so it's not something new for the corporation. In the future, this gives us a chance in the Unix market if we prove we can do [NT in an efficient way," said Nestor Cano, Tech Data's president of worldwide operations.

The distributor plans to enhance its storage and security lines around the NT platform, Bazzone said. Current offerings include storage products from Hitachi Data Systems, Veritas Software and Network Appliance; security solutions from Check Point Software Technologies, Symantec and RSA; and enterprise applications from Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP.

"We will be looking to attract new products within existing vendors and new vendors," Bazzone said. "Once their understanding of the value-add Tech Data has increases, we'll get their attention perhaps for more opportunities for products that have not been brought into the channel at all or into Tech Data," she said.

Tech Data has scheduled eight enterprise-focused road shows this summer to educate solution providers on enterprise opportunities.

"Solution providers need to know how many support people they need, how many certifications, [how many authorizations, [what is their inventory responsibility," she said. "For some, [the road shows will tell them they can't get in to this space. In other cases, they will find they are willing to make that investment."

Solution providers can still sell enterprise solutions via Tech Data, just not yet through the formalized business unit, executives said.

"We have a bit more work to do. All our technical services are in place," Bazzone said. "We have the products, we have systems engineers that are trained or certified. All of that can happen now."

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