The rack pack

Enclosures that house enterprise infrastructure hardware do not receive much in the way of high-profile exposure, possibly because they aren't the most exciting of products. Channel Middle East lined up the leading rack vendors to find out if image is everything or if there are more margins to be made from racks than meets the eye.

  • E-Mail
By  Julian Pletts Published  April 6, 2008

Enclosures that house enterprise infrastructure hardware do not receive much in the way of high-profile exposure, possibly because they aren't the most exciting of products.

Channel Middle East lined up the leading rack vendors to find out if image is everything or if there are more margins to be made from racks than meets the eye.

We talked to these regional cabinet crooners to discover if the channel is hitting the right note: Craig Doyle (CD), country manager UAE at CommScope; Joe Rodricks (JR), general manager and director MEA at APW President; Pete Gough (PG), regional business manager Middle East and Pakistan at Panduit; and Kenneth Neil (KN), team leader mid market at APC-MGE.

Racking and cabinets are perhaps not the most glamorous of products to be involved with. How do you get the reseller channel interested in such equipment?

Resellers should have business and technical skills. On the business side, they must have a thorough knowledge of the end-customer’s applications, strategy and expansion plan

PG: If someone is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on active equipment then really they should be looking at thermal management and cooling, and at remote management of the products. Cabinets are an integral part of the investment and some people are trying to cut corners.

I have seen examples of people spending a lot of money on active equipment and then squeezing it into a cheaper cabinet and not getting the performance they expected.

Immediately they turn to the active equipment manufacturer and say this equipment isn't performing as it should when in fact it is being degraded by the thermal management within the enclosure. It's like squeezing a high performance athlete into a tight box and expecting him to run 100 metres in 10 seconds.

I don't have a problem talking about whether it is glamorous or sexy because it is an integral part of the end-user's investment. The channel is responsible for deploying the solution and when they deploy a solution that does not perform to its optimum then the finger of blame comes back to them.

CD: Probably the biggest focus we have is to emphasise to the channel that when they are working with any customer, the more solutions they offer, the more the customer will call for them.

Cabinets extend beyond the physical infrastructure, where the core business is high-performance cabling, copper fibre and all the patching solutions. You don't spend all that money on an asset and leave it in something that is unsecured.

Being able to position cabinets as an additional value add and capability gives partners a broader sense of value with a customer. And our customers typically give that feedback as well; if they can go to one integrator and get more than one solution that is complementary, it makes much more sense.

It creates a much tighter relationship that the partner can then look to develop with the customer.

KN: Racks are a means to an end. They can be the lifeblood of the datacentre or they can prove to be a headache.

The racks that we have offered the market are designed from an IT perspective out. They are not designed with the hope of finding a channel as a secondary consideration. The weight and the density of the datacentres are increasing so the weight of the cabinet is increasing.

Some of the new blade chassis are up to 200kgs each and you can have any number of those chassis. What we are trying to do here is give the end customer an easy product to deploy and keep it simple for the reseller to specify a product that they know they can trust.

What is your current channel strategy in the Middle East and how do you intend to develop it over the next year?

CD: The biggest change we have made to the channel structure is the launch of a new channel programme and a major focus of that is to help the channel sell as many solutions as possible, relevant to each customer, rather than focusing on just one solution.

The more solutions the channel is offering from CommScope, the tighter the relationship with the end-user and with us. The new channel programme gives us an additional value to offer the channel - they are getting additional benefits and additional solutions.

The more successful you can be with the channel, the better the relationship can be in the long term. The future strategy is to enable the partners to get specialised capabilities in the different solutions that complement each other.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code