Nortel ticks Tech Pac box for SME push

Nortel Networks has ramped up its relationship with Tech Pacific in a bold move that sets the stage for a distributor fight over its small-to-medium business (SMB) market.

Tech Pacific has added Nortel's BayStack line of hubs and switches to its portfolio in addition to the vendor's SOHO and SMB Netgear range.

Nortel channel director Gary Starr said the decision to increase Tech Pacific's role came after industry research revealed it has a broader reach into the SMB market than its competitors.

"It's no secret that Tech Pacific has the largest reach in this part of the world," said Starr. The distributor's charter is to give Nortel's Enterprise Solutions division the "required volume" of sales for that market.

However, Westcon Australia managing director Duncan Craven appears unconvinced by the move, despite reassurances his relationship with Nortel remains intact and he understands the business motives behind the decision.

"We are unsure as to the long-term benefit to Nortel of this new arrangement, given the situation with other vendors who are over-distributed in the market today," he said.

Craven said Tech Pacific's SMB role now sees it overlap with Westcon's existing SMB business, which accounts for around 50 per cent of Nortel's SMB sales in Australia.

Over the next nine months, Westcon plans to work hard to boost its SMB business, which he said remains "largely untapped".

Ross Cochrane, Express Data's general manager, appeared unruffled by the news, commenting that it allows Express Data to remain focused on high-end, non-commodity products.

"I guess that's a good channel for a commodity product [like the BayStack]," he said.

Nortel itself is keenly focused on the SME networking space.

Starr said the company has invested in dedicated staff for sales, marketing a technology solutions centre, pre-sales and help desk roles.

"We've also gone out and got ourselves 1000 network resellers," he said, explaining the task is now to convert purchasing intention to real sales.

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