Ingram Micro: VARs Asked Us For Switches

Ingram Micro’s new V7-branded networking switches stem from solution providers asking the distributor to add a low-end product in that category, according to Ingram Micro.

Specifically, VARs that were selling Ingram’s V7-branded cables wanted Ingram Micro to offer something more to attach them to, said Robert Forster, director of product marketing for Ingram Micro’s V7 division.

’They wanted to know if we had the relationship to deliver this type of product. As we did our research, we found this was a fit. Our customers are getting these existing [switches], but they weren’t getting them through Ingram Micro,’ Forster said. Likely, VARs were getting low-end ’white switches’ directly from OEMs, direct marketers or other sources, he said.

’These are commodity products. They get [price-]shopped,’ Forster said.

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Ingram Micro told its current networking vendors it planned to offer the switches, but Forster declined to say how the vendors responded.

Doug Hyde, product series manager for HP Networking’s SMB V-Series products, said there’s very little overlap between what Ingram Micro offers and what HP offers.

’Their announcement is not concerning,’ Hyde said. ’While HP does have unmanaged desktop switches, we target business customers and offer many more switch choices.’

Netgear declined to comment, and inquiries to Cisco Systems and D-Link were not returned.

’We went to our vendors, just like we’d do with any other product launch,’ Forster said. ’Ingram Micro has a pretty broad mission: that we will be universally regarded as delivering technology to the world. That’s a tall order. There’s not one solution to deliver that message to all customers.

’To the extent that we make sure we give the right options to customers, we have a broad range of customer needs. There are absolutely customers that have a specific rack they’re trying to fill, specifications they need. Other customers look for more generic, commoditized product. We want to make sure the first place they look is Ingram Micro.’

The switches are made by an Asia-based OEM, but Forster declined to name the company.

’With all our categories we talk with our current vendor base, work with suppliers. For switches, we did go through our own research for the right supplier. It is a supplier of product for other top-tier [manufacturers],’ he said.

At this time, adding other networking products, such as managed switches, is ’not on our immediate road map,’ Forster said, but he said the distributor plans to add other peripheral and accessory products in the future.

In addition to switches and cables, Ingram Micro offers LCD monitors, notebook replacement batteries, toner ink cartridges, carrying cases, keyboards, mice, PC speakers, privacy screens, surge protectors and universal AC adapters with the V7 brand.

Ingram Micro is unique among broadline distributors in offering its own line of products. Synnex once marketed some products under its own NexConcepts brand but stopped several years ago. Back in the late 1990s, Ingram Micro also marketed its own white-box desktops, branded Everest.

CHAD BERNDTSON contributed to this story.