Power play

The market for uninterruptible power supply (UPS) products has exploded in recent years due to the massive investments that customers have made in their data centres. And it would seem the leading providers of hardware from this segment are expanding their Middle East channel strategies to keep up with demand.

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Power play Nicholas Argyrides, Logicom.
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By  Piers Ford Published  July 15, 2010

These are the boom years for UPS sales across the Middle East, according to market analyst firm Frost & Sullivan. End-user vertical markets and infrastructure investment are driving double-digit growth, and vendors are finding it easy to capitalise on demand, even allowing for the intense competition on price and occasional localised hurdles in power-deficit countries where oil-fuelled generators are sometimes preferred over grid power.

However, if they are to sustain this growth — and Frost & Sullivan predicts that demand will level off after 2015 as many significant end-user projects mature — vendors must strengthen their distribution strategy and build specific expertise in the channel rather than relying on generalist suppliers. And with many of them setting their sights on the SMB sector, this will be an increasingly important strategy. “A number of UPS vendors today actively work on strategies aiming to enhance channel breadth, especially focusing on SMB — the fastest-growing and widest space available for grabs,” says Nicholas Argyrides, general manager at distributor Logicom.

“For example, our partner APC recently introduced several channel partner programmes that allow resellers to sign up with several benefits on the table. Segregation of partners into different tiers occurs based on the resellers’ internal skills sets, online training participation and other criteria.

“Such programmes not only educate and improve the reseller, they also keep them loyal to the brand. They are aligned with APC’s strategy to educate the channel — via web-based tools, for example — with core emphasis on UPS, datacentre and cooling solutions.”

Argyrides says the UPS market focus has moved away from enabling a full server shutdown during a brief power cut.

“Today, the message to businesses throughout the region focuses on the installation of higher-capacity UPSs, which will ensure longer back-up time as opposed to only a few minutes,” he says.

“Events such as the recent power cut in one of the Emirates and natural disasters in Oman underline the need for keeping other critical equipment such as network and storage under prolonged UPS protection in order to minimise or even eliminate unexpected downtimes. In general, our priority is to educate our resellers on the UPS arena and enable them to choose the solutions that suit them – and their customers – best.

“The most recent shifts in our industry arose due to the global financial recession. Regionally, most vendors have, one way or another, tried to support their channel strategies with fiscal methods such as extending credit terms to their partners or providing higher discounts to help absorb towering financial costs. Other schemes include loyalty programmes for partners, and education initiatives.”

Asked how they intend to reinforce this strategy in the coming months, vendors are unanimous in their chorus: partner programmes are under constant review, incentives are promised and loyalty — vital in an increasingly commoditised market — will be rewarded. And resellers will be recruited at a local level wherever possible.

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