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Industry watchers harbored great expectations for 2005 as the year in which integrators would see growth in the RFID business.

While opportunity exists, integrators and resellers will have to take care in pursuing customers. A CompTIA report released this week indicates that companies across a wide range of industries are adopting radio frequency identification.

But some, pressured by compliance deadlines, are taking a rudimentary “slap and ship” approach to deploying the technology.

“Resellers may not find much business in those industry sectors where slap-and-ship is the prevailing practice,” according to Steven Ostrowski, a CompTIA spokesman. The report cited retail, consumer goods and textiles/apparel as industries under tight mandates, largely from big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart, to adopt RFID.

On the other hand, other sectors demonstrate more interest in tying RFID into their business processes.

“Financial services, computers/electronics, transportation/logistics and automotive were at the top of this list in our research,” Ostrowski said. He suggested those industries may provide a “sweet spot” for resellers pursuing RFID work.

The CompTIA report is based on a survey of more than 500 organizations in North America that have either completed RFID implementations or plan to do so within the next 12 months. The automotive industry is on the most aggressive adoption path, according to the report. In this sector, 59 percent of the companies surveyed reported plans to deploy the technology in the next 12 months.

EqualLogic Grows Partner Base

Recent growth in iSCSI storage has helped double storage vendor EqualLogic Inc.’s channel roster over the past 12 months.

EqualLogic now works with more than 100 channel companies and plans to recruit additional partners, the company reported on Tuesday.

The key draw, according to the company, is its PS Series iSCSI-based storage arrays. Partners said iSCSI products are making storage area networks available to a broader market.

“I think the potential for this market is huge [based on] the ability to deliver the promise of shared storage at a cost that the average small and midmarket company can easily afford,” said Mike Reilly, a managing partner at Foedus Group LLC, an IT infrastructure solutions provider based in Portsmouth, N.H. “We are doing a tremendous amount of business with EqualLogic.”

Reilly said the 2-year-old company has been working with EqualLogic for about 20 months. He said he has seen the product used as a platform for disk-based backup and disaster recovery.

EqualLogic is looking for new partners that understand solution selling, maintain a trained sales force, and provide a systems engineering organization able to deploy storage solutions, according to John Joseph, vice president of marketing at EqualLogic.

EqualLogic offers partners a certification and training program. The company offers training through Webcasts and instructor-led training, among other methods.

Partners aren’t currently required to certify a given number of sales and engineering people, but Joseph said he foresees that type of program in the future.

In addition, EqualLogic offers a deal registration program. A reseller who registers a specific, budgeted project with EqualLogic will receive a “steep discount” off the list price of a storage solution, Joseph said. Other resellers can pursue the same deal, but obtain a “much shallower discount level,” he added.

Voyence Expands Channel Scope

Voyence Expands Channel Scope

Voyence Inc., a maker of network configuration management products, is expanding the scope of its channel effort, which it hopes will pull in 60 percent of the company’s business.

Mitch Miller, Voyence’s newly appointed director of channels, said the company aims to build an “ecosystem of distribution” that encompasses VARs, large systems integrators and OEMs. The company currently has about 30 partners, which range from regional resellers to large integrators such as Accenture and IBM Global Services. Voyence also works with management software vendor BMC Software.

At present, such channel partners account for about 15 percent of the company’s revenue. Miller said he would like to grow that slice to 60 percent worldwide.

He said sales that run directly through Voyence will have a link to the channel. The company doesn’t seek to provide professional services and looks to partners to provide consulting and integration, he said.

Miller said Voyence will unveil a new version of its channel program in October. That revised program, he said, will reflect the company’s move toward a three-tiered revenue program, in which the company will tie margin improvement to revenue commitment.

Resellers that commit to certain levels of training and certification will also qualify for additional margin.

Also in October, Voyence plans to release the beta version of a software development kit, which Miller said will open up development opportunities for partners.

Akonix Seeks Partners for IM Security

Akonix Systems Inc. has taken the wraps off a channel program that targets resellers and integrators as a conduit for its instant messaging security appliance.

John Tennant, director of channel management at Akonix, said the company has more than 50 security- and compliance-oriented channel partners. Those include ASAP Software, Softchoice and Software Spectrum, as well as security-centric companies including Acuity Solutions, Fishnet Security, SiegeWorks and True North.

Akonix released its L7 CM5000 IM security appliance in March. Vendors have cultivated resellers and integrators to sell appliances in other fields such as e-mail security and wide-area file services. The arrangement helps vendors move boxes without having to invest in in-house deployment services.

The channel effort has led to customer wins. Acuity, for example, sold an Akonix appliance to Kforce Inc., a staffing firm.

The Akonix channel program offers deal registration and a simplified ordering process, according to Tennant. Akonix offers partners three appliance configurations for 200, 500 or 1,000 users. The configurations include the IM security appliance, L7 Enforcer security software, Sophos anti-virus and a one-year security update service, according to the company.

The appliance installation is straightforward, Tennant said, adding that the process takes half a day at the most.