Tech Access talks value

Long serving Sun Microsystems channel development partner Tech Access continues to go from strength to strength in the market. Channel Middle East caught up with Shomail Ghalib, president and CEO at the enterprise level distributor, to discuss the evolving nature of the company’s business model.

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By  Andrew Seymour Published  August 1, 2007

Long serving Sun Microsystems channel development partner Tech Access continues to go from strength to strength in the market. Channel Middle East caught up with Shomail Ghalib, president and CEO at the enterprise level distributor, to discuss the evolving nature of the company's business model.

Tech Access is known for its alignment with Sun. Do you still see the company being Sun-centric in the long term?

We started off with Sun and we are now experiencing probably the best time we've had as far as our commitment to Sun is concerned. In terms of the broader picture, we need to look at leveraging what we have developed with Sun and seeing how we can build on that. The way we are looking to do that is by bringing more focus to storage, software and networking. We are engaging with all the practices within Sun and trying to bring a focused approach to each one. So we are moving back towards solution sales, using those as drivers for business and taking that through to the channel.

What are the key focus areas for Tech Access at the moment?

Storage is a particularly big focus for us, and services. What we are doing now is actively going out to recruit technical sales and post-sales technical resources so that we can give them to the channel to better compete and deliver better services to the end-user.

You recently signed tape and disk libraries vendor SpectraLogic. Can we expect more agreements or are you content with your portfolio?

As it stands right now we would be inclined to consolidate what we have. We have pretty much covered the whole spectrum as far as infrastructure, storage, software, security and services. There's huge investment on our part this year to fill the gaps we need to support the growth envisaged. I wouldn't say we are not in negotiations with vendors, but nothing has really materialised as such yet.

What's the split between Sun and the other vendor partners you represent these days?

It's rebalancing. We will realise about 30% to 40% of our numbers with non-Sun vendors next year - not this year. In an ideal world it would be 60/40 with 40% from Sun. But it's a totally different model because we are the only Sun CDP. We are in a unique position and a unique contract. With the other partners we have other distributors to contend with and it's more of a mainstream distributor role whereas with Sun it is high, value-add distribution. What we are trying to do is merge the two and become more of a hybrid systems integrator-type distributor where we bring a lot more value to the channel through solutions and drive them to understand the business propositions behind the technology.

You talked earlier about recruiting technical and post-sales resources. Where does that fit in?

We want to be able to give the channel resources which they cannot necessarily afford to keep on their books. We want them to focus and invest in the area which will generate business for them, but allow them to be able to offer the full solution to the end-user by engaging our technical team to go and deliver that on their behalf.

How sophisticated are resellers to work with that model?

We partly do it already, but what we are doing now is a focused approach by putting a technical sales team together to drive that business. What we are doing is helping resellers - through playbooks, training and other means - to identify the opportunities. Once we have done that we are going to deliver them and be able to up-sell and cross-sell through that. What's invariably happening now is an installation quote goes through, they don't necessarily have the resources and maybe the vendors are overstretched and can't support them. We are trying to fill that gap and demand through a completely new division. They have to see the business.

We have been doing some numbers and there's about US$1m worth of business before a partner starts looking to invest so we are trying to get them to focus and invest where they need to. They can develop that side of the end-user relationship and allow us to help support them to a point where they can then invest in resources for themselves. Not all our partners will utilise those resources, but we want to get better coverage to be able to do that.

What is the recruitment market like for highly-skilled technical and post-sales staff?

We have had some success, but on a technical side we have found it very difficult to find resources, especially here, but even Saudi. So we are now looking further afield and have gone to Europe and also the sub-continent as well.

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