Server sales

The server market is experiencing robust growth as SMBs show a healthy appetite for hardware and invest in traditional enterprise offerings such as server virtualisation. Channel Middle East surveyed a number of leading server vendors to find out what this all means for the Middle East channel. They are: Aaron White (AW), sales manager SEE at Sun; Johan Degroote (JD), business development director EMEA at NEC; Rajesh Deepchandani (RD), large enterprise product marketing manager at Fujitsu Siemens; Ryan D'Souza (RDS), ISS product manager at HP Middle East; and Wael Abdoush (WA), Middle East systems and technology group manager at IBM (WA).

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By  Administrator Published  April 1, 2007

Independent market research shows that the server market is experiencing huge growth across the EMEA region. How does this play out in the Middle East?

AW: We are reflective of the overall server growth. Sun, as a company, has outperformed the market in server growth and the latest Gartner figures show a 43.7% year-on-year growth during the fourth quarter. We're very pleased that we're in track with the overall company's growth in this market space.

RDS: We've been experiencing double digit growth for quite some time now, quarter on quarter as well as year on year - so the Middle East is one of the fastest growing regions that we see.

WA: The server market across EMEA is booming and the Middle East is no exception. In 2006 we've seen a big growth in all server categories - over 30% - so we're no exception.

How are you making it an attractive proposition for resellers to invest in your servers?

AW: Sun is one of the only firms which is gaining market share in the server market. Overall I think it's an attractive prospect because we're tackling the Unix side of the server market which is also more profitable for resellers. Not only are the products more exclusive, but it's a full project, not just a one product hardware sell - we're offering a project driven type of environment and business. So, for resellers, the project aspect of it, plus the fact that they're dealing with a vendor whose market share is growing faster than anyone else's makes it an attractive prospect. And we see demand from different resellers coming from other horizons. We get four, five, maybe 10 new applications per week from Sun's partner community, which is a good sign.

RD: A lot of customers are deploying mid-market solutions such as CRM or ERP so there's varying demand. We try to make sure that we're addressing the right market with the right products and we work very closely with some of the software vendors. We make sure that the right products exist in the channel because there's no point in having a specific server in the market with huge quantities if SMBs don't need such a high capacity. We try to make sure the right customers get the right servers and we're working with ISVs to ensure this.

JD: We try to be closer to the market and to the end-users than the other vendors by addressing their specific issues and separating ourselves from the box-dropping attitude. We have the advantage of being a European company so we have engineers in Europe, which is pretty close to the region, especially when you consider that most of our competitors are based in the US. On top of the basics that everybody does, we go that extra mile and we integrate software; we design solutions specifically for an SMB. So when we talk to an end-user we have a business discussion, not a box discussion.

RDS: We have a fairly comprehensive route-to-market model and there is our Preferred Partner programme. In addition to that, we try to sweeten the proposition by running local programmes to give resellers incentives and rebates based on performance or focus within a specific area, and these are incremental and make a good profit stream for resellers. There is also the brand strength of ProLiant servers - for quite some time we've had the number one positioned servers in the Middle East market. In the UAE specifically, we've had over 50% market share, which means one out of every two servers sold is a ProLiant. HP ensures that resellers are compensated adequately, both centrally and locally, to make this a profitable and healthy business for them.

WA: At IBM we work through a wide network of partners and resellers in the market. Resellers see a lot of value in working with us based on our market share and the technology, which is enabling them to sell a lot more in the market.

What kinds of skills do resellers need to possess to effectively sell your products?

AW: Sun is a pretty demanding company when it comes to skills. We have always tried to keep our channel community lean and mean, which means we have no quantitative goal to sign hundreds of partners all across each country. We try to keep the number of partners to the bearable minimum, which means that each partner must have his business space, focus, his own skills, and so on. But on the other side of the coin, we're asking these partners to be above average when it comes to sales and pre-sales so we have very stringent accreditation rules and certification for individuals.

RD: We stress that partners need to bring value to customers. Box-moving is no longer the way forward. It hasn't been the way forward for the past five to seven years already, so you've got to get a new skillset. Maybe that's with a solution, portals, mid-market ERP, CRM, or offering different types of solutions. It's important that the channel partner finds a niche in the market and develops strategies for it because customers are looking for value-added resellers.

WA: Customers want to see the skills available in a reseller to be able to install the software, integrate the hardware, do the set up and have customisation skills because the majority of SMB clients don't have the IT staff to do this. The reseller needs to have enough skills on the hardware and software side of it. This is exactly what the SMB customer is looking for.

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