NEC Chooses Channel

This week NEC will announce that Avnet Partner Solutions will distribute the products. This latest deal comes one month after NEC signed a distribution agreement with Team 1 Systems, a Pittsburgh-based distributor and system builder.

Previously, about 20 percent of NEC&'s business from these products came from direct sales, said Efrem Stringfellow, vice president of North America Sales for the Solutions Platform Group at NEC Solutions America.

In addition, NEC has created an Express Partner program to offer tiered sales and marketing support to solution providers. The program and a 100 percent commitment to distribution should eliminate conflicts with NEC&'s direct sales team, Stringfellow said.

“We&'re not looking to compete for services business. We have been aggressive with our pricing structure. We will apply our resources from a sales and product marketing focus around [Team 1 and Avnet],” Stringfellow said.

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Solution providers now sourcing the products through NEC will sign a one-year deal with one of the distributors, Stringfellow said. He is looking to add solution providers but plans to keep the number of partners in the dozens. Benjamin Woo, director of strategic technologies at New York solution provider AMC, said NEC&'s new channel model will benefit his company.

“To be honest, there&'s always room for multi-billion-dollar companies to take some deals direct. The fact that they are committing 100 percent is good for us. It allows us to move into customers that we may not have been able to do before,” Woo said.

Dave Ochser, director of business development for Avnet Partner Solutions, said NEC has gone to great lengths to develop its channel program.

“We sat down with the NEC team and really talked about product strategy and how to help resellers make more money,” Ochser said. “This is not just about adding a server line or a storage or software line. It&'s looking at a solution that NEC can bring to market.”

Phoenix-based Avnet will immediately carry the fault-tolerant and Itanium 2 servers, software and storage. Team 1 currently distributes only NEC&'s fault-tolerant servers, Stringfellow said. “The value they have is a real good group of ISVs they work with,” he said. “That&'s not to say we won&'t engage in other conversations down the road. But for the time being, these are clearly the partners we want.”