D-Link Aims To Poach 3Com VARs

The networking vendor will usher its competitors' Platinum-, Gold- or Silver-level partners into the Diamond tier of its new Business Solutions Partner Program, giving them instant access to aggressive discounts, rebates and demo equipment offers, said Keith Karlsen, executive vice president of D-Link.

In particular, Karlsen said the Fountain Valley, Calif.-based vendor hopes to turn current strife among 3Com's channel ranks to its advantage, seeking to woo solution providers disgruntled by recent changes to 3Com's channel strategy that halved the ranks of its program's top two tiers.

"We're looking to build bridges to those people who are not sure if they should be doing that level of business with their current [vendor] or are worried about loyalty," said Robert Robinson, director of business channel sales at D-Link.

The new program is part of D-Link's efforts to become a stronger midmarket player by tapping channel partners' integration skills to tie together its networking, wireless and VoIP products, Karlsen said.

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"We want to move into pure business-class higher-end solutions rather than just low-end products," Karlsen said.

D-Link's product portfolio is well-positioned to take on midmarket competitors such as 3Com and MiLAN Technology, said Bill Luckey, vice president of product management at GHA Technologies, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based solution provider that sells both D-Link and 3Com gear.

But one 3Com VAR disagreed. "It would be difficult for us to go into our client base with D-Link products because they expect higher-end products and functionality," said Steve Seely, general manager and executive vice president of Peterson Computer Technologies, a Loves Park, Ill.-based solution provider that focuses on 3Com and Cisco Systems infrastructure products. D-Link more aptly compares to Cisco's Linksys division, Seely added.

Luckey said D-Link should work more closely with its partners in joint marketing efforts to boost brand recognition among larger customers.

For both new and existing partners, D-Link's Business Solutions Partner Program aims to distinguish between the vendor's SMB solution providers and those focused on the consumer market, Robinson said.

The program, slated to launch Nov. 1, provides business-focused partners with specialized discounts and promotions, priority field support, lifetime warranty services and tiered pricing through distribution.