Distributor: IP Telephony Is Calling Out to VARs

By Sharon Linsenbach  |  Print this article Print


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There's some hot talk at this year's D&H Mid-Atlantic Technology Show, and most of it is about the torrid market for VOIP.

HERSHEY, Pa.—Walking the show floor at D&H Distributing's 10th annual Mid-Atlantic Technology Show, it's clear as a bell that IP telephony is the hot topic for VARs this year, and the distributor believes the area is one that will continue to grow.

Voice networking and IP telephony vendors made up a sizable portion of the 28 vendors who turned out to show their wares to the show's 1,000 attendees this year. Dan Schwab, co-president of the technology components distributor, says vendor turnout coupled with intense interest from VARs and resellers signal a new frontier for VOIP (voice over IP).

Most IT resellers have never sold voice technology before, Schwab says, largely because the systems were traditionally separate from data networks and other legacy technologies. But as the systems have converged, many solution providers are looking to make the transition "from data VAR to communications VAR," he says.

While he encourages resellers to explore the opportunity, Schwab cautions that the transition is not to be taken lightly. VARs need to understand a customer's entire communications ecosystem and fully grasp just how mission-critical these communications are, he says.

"They can't just try and see if a system or a configuration is going to work. When they take an old system offline and put a new one in place, it absolutely has to work," he says.

A representative of one New Jersey-based VAR who wished to remain anonymous says the rapid buy-in of vendors of all sizes to the voice space means huge opportunities for VARs and their customers. "All the big guys, Cisco and everyone, are getting involved, and a lot of little guys too, which means lots of competition, lower prices and lots of solutions options," he adds.

Schwab says most technology trends have been tracking pretty closely with his own predictions for the year. One area where he says he was surprised has been the explosion of ultramobile devices.

"There are now so many vendors with ultramobile products helping to expand the market," Schwab says, adding that there's also a big push toward achieving "one device per person" with ultramobile devices.

"There's a huge market for notebook users who want anytime access to online functionality and e-mail no matter where they are," Schwab says. On the consumer side, he says, with the increased functionality of ultraportable devices, many families are choosing to purchase those devices for children, teenagers and college students rather than a more expensive, full-featured laptop computer.

Another technology area providing opportunities in the channel is server upgrades for small businesses. Also, previously successful markets for peripherals such as printers and projectors are still not saturated. While they may not be the low-hanging fruit they once were, VARs can still tie in other services and maintenance and upgrades that can be wrapped around such existing technologies, Schwab says.

As far as the shaky economy, Schwab says most resellers don't appear concerned. He says most D&H resellers are small and midsize businesses, and aren't affected by the slowdown like their larger enterprise counterparts.

"Big companies build in excess capacity—extra employees, extra production capacity. Not so with SMBs," Schwab says. And D&H continues to grow, he adds, showing 13 percent growth in the fiscal fourth-quarter 2007. The distributor was up 15 percent in May and hopes to post double-digit growth for the 2009 fiscal year.


Sharon Linsenbach Sharon Linsenbach is a staff writer for eWEEK and eWEEK Channel Insider. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, Sharon was Assistant Managing Editor for CRN, a weekly magazine for PC and technology resellers. Before joining CRN, Sharon was an Acquisitions Editor for The Coriolis Group and later, Editorial Director with Paraglyph Press, both in Scottsdale, AZ. She holds a BA in English from Drew University and lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her significant other and two neurotic cats. When she's not reading or writing about technology, Sharon enjoys yoga, knitting, traveling and live music. Sharon can be reached at Sharon.Linsenbach@ziffdavisenterprise.com.

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