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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.