Stories by Nadia Cameron

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Leigh Howard appointed to lead Westcon in regional restructure

Westcon Group sales director, Leigh Howard, has been promoted to Australian managing director as part of a restructure of the distributor’s business across Asia-Pacific. He takes the local reins from Wendy O’Keeffe, who took up an Asia-Pacific role 12 months ago.

Cellnet upgrades profit forecast

Trans-Tasman distributor Cellnet is targeting up to $1.88 million net profit for the year to June 30. The distributor raised its first half-year profit expectations from $1.06 million to $1.25 million, as well as its full-year net profit forecast to $1.76m-$1.88m. The announcement comes nearly two months after Cellnet forecast first-half profits would reach $880,000 in the six months to December 31, 2009. In a statement, Cellnet managing director Stuart Smith said the turnaround reflected its strong focus on core business lines, along with a more leaner, efficient organisation. Improvements in sales volumes during December, which were higher than any other previous month, were cited as the reason for the raised forecast. It is also in defiance of relatively modest gains in the retail segment over the Christmas season, he said. Cellnet exited IT distribution on both sides of the Tasman last year, selling this part of its business to Datastor in New Zealand. Smith pointed to Cellnet's debt free status.

Clearswift opens cloud model to partners

Security vendor Clearswift has launched a managed services model to help resellers get their customers into the cloud. Clearswift Asia Pacific managing director Peter Croft says it adjusted its licensing and payment structure to enable its channel partners to resell its Clearswift web and email appliances technology in an on-demand way. Resellers will need to acquire Clearswift’s technology but can then on-sell different levels of functionality and capabilities at their own pricepoint. These include inbound and outbound scanning, policy and compliance reporting and data loss prevention. According to Croft, one of the drawbacks of third-party hosted offerings was that they made it difficult for resellers to justify their role in the sale. At the same time, customers were looking for ways to transition costs into the OpEx, rather than CapEx, column. “We wanted to satisfy two things: One, to produce a managed services offer for the private cloud; and two, to give resellers an ability to value add around that,” Croft says. “There’s no change to our technology – what we’ve changed is how it applies, so it’s easier for resellers to deliver the software in a private cloud for end users.” Resellers can label their managed services with their own brand, powered by Clearswift, and set their own pricing model. Clearswift will charge a fee to the reseller for each component on a per-seat basis. For example, email capabilities will cost $1 per user, per month. “Resellers get everything but can then structure the services and charge just for email, or for a full service with all the policy control at a higher price,” Croft says. He sees particular opportunity within the public sector. “It’s hard to do hosting for those types of customers as they don’t know where information is sitting – it could be Hong Kong or Singapore – and governments often have restrictions on data being located offshore,” Croft says. “This model allows MSPs to deploy bespoke clouds for their government customers and they can see where the data is housed.” Clearswift’s managed services offering is available worldwide from November.

Cameron steps into CA role

Former Lenovo managing director and industry veteran, Phil Cameron, has taken up an Asia-Pacific channel role with CA. His new position as vice-president of sales sees him responsible for the vendor’s Internet Security Business Unit (ISBU) including its consumer VET antivirus products, Internet Security Suite and 2010 releases, and Threat Manager Total Defence for the business market. Cameron said 100 per cent of the ISBU business went through channel. His key focus is to improve CA’s engagement with partners and form more strategic relationships. Cameron announced his departure from Lenovo in September. At that time, he told ARN his intention was to stay within the IT channel. “The channel is in my DNA and I’m looking forward to getting back into that,” he said. “When I was looking for a change, I wanted something with broader scope in Asia-Pacific that was different from hardware. I like going into businesses that are aligned with channel, but offer opportunity to do a better job than in the past. “My first priority is to work on our Australian business. There’s a great opportunity to improve our overall engagement with business partners, our coverage and support.” CA had 540 active dealers across A/NZ that he hoped to work more closely with. In a statement, CA senior vice-president and general manager for ISBU, George Kafkarkou, welcomed Cameron to the team and said his sales, channel and leadership experience were vital in its push for broader regional market share. Cameron reports to CA vice-president for global channel sales, Chris Hickey, and is based in Sydney.

Avaya connects with new channel programme

Avaya has launched a new global channel program aimed at improving partner profitability and skill sets. New offerings under Avaya Connect will include additional financial benefits and a single, tiered global pricing list, enhanced technical, marketing and sales support and streamlined training and certifications, the vendor said in a statement. Partners will now be provided with credits at the time of sale, rather than post-sales rebates, significantly reducing processing times, the vendor said. It claimed to have also reduced partner application times to under two hours. Avaya has also pared down its training program tracks from 97 learning and certification options to 13 solutions-based courses focused on unified communications, contact centre and the SMB solution lifecycle. These will cover design and sales through to integration and maintenance. The vendor said training times had been reduced by up to 50 per cent, and new virtual education tools would further cut the time needed to complete qualifications. The overhauled structure would allow it to better recognise partners operating in different market segments, such as SME and mid-market, Avaya claimed. In a statement, worldwide channels vice-president, Jeremy Butt, said building stronger connections with partners would give the community a stronger chance at success as well as enable it to better service customers. Other initiatives in the new program include harmonising requirements for its Platinum, Gold, Silver and Authorised levels globally, as well as new Service Experts and SME Experts specialisations. The higher partners go up the competency scale, the more discounts and benefits were available, Avaya said. Avaya Connect was unveiled at the vendor’s partner conference in the US this week and will come into effect on February 1, 2010. The new program comes a month after Avaya secured Nortel’s enterprise solutions business for $US900 million following a bidding war.