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The Name Of The Game Has Changed At Avnet Hall-Mark

Avnet Hall-Mark is changing its name to Avnet Partner Solutions this week, but the distributor hopes solution providers will see more than a new moniker.

The $2 billion distributor of IBM and Hewlett-Packard enterprise platforms plans to introduce a model later this year that will give solution providers the option of taking title to products on a deal-by-deal basis, said Steve Tepedino, president of Avnet Partner Solutions.

For example, the Tempe, Ariz., distributor could sell products directly to end users at the solution provider's discretion, allowing the solution provider to focus on higher-margin services, Tepedino said.

"The name change is neat, but we're differentiating what we're doing with Partner Solutions by selling to resellers, through resellers and with resellers," he said. "Some of our partners have expressed over time that they think they could grow at a faster rate if they could partner with us in different fashions."

Avnet Partner Solutions hopes to attract new solution providers that traditionally may not have thought about partnering with a distributor, Tepedino said.

"We're dealing with a new set of partners that may not want to be a traditional reseller. They may be ISVs [or] service providers and they may not want product on the book. We want to give those partners access to product and product specialization," he said. "It also should unlock the potential of current partners to do more with us, to open new markets for different types of partners, to be in more parts of [their] customer's enterprise," he said.

Avnet Partner Solutions initially will explore the new model with HP products but eventually plans to roll it out with products from other vendors, Tepedino said. The distributor has not yet informed solution providers of the upcoming model, but one said a recent conversation with the distributor left him impressed that Avnet Partner Solutions is making the right moves to help his business.

"I think they're looking to provide more value to partners, to become more relevant in the process," said Tim Joyce, president and CEO of Roundstone Systems, a $20 million Alameda, Calif.-based HP solution provider. "The long-term prospects of just being a hardware reseller are in question. Any manufacturer can put up a Web site. The long-term prospects of distribution are in question if you don't provide value other than just being a middleman."

Avnet Partner Solutions also plans to provide more services that solution providers can offer to customers, enhancing both its Web-based tools as well as its technical resource bench, Tepedino said.

"I expect our customers will act like a traditional VAR most of the time, but on some deals they can use our storage assessment tool to sell with their current skills, or when it comes to taking on an [HP] OpenView deal, we can [also] be the services delivery arm for them, not just product," Tepedino said. "It provides the resellers with maximum flexibility."

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