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GOLD COLUMN

e-sales?
This issue's column is dominated by the Internet, e-commerce and the imminent arrival of application service providers (ASP's) in the mainstream. While dealers would be well-advised to get in on the ground floor with ASP's, the Internet is not all milk and honey for the dealer channel, as witnessed by Jungle.com, the Web-based reseller, launched in a blaze of publicity last year. Despite the millions spent on the reseller operation, the firm has now shelved its plans for a stock market float. Not because the firm is in trouble - far from it; sales are riding high. It's just that public confidence in Internet ventures is at an all-time low. Funny how the winds of change have affected Internet stocks in recent months. One minute they're really popular, then they're worse than the plague when it comes to financial interest.

Unipalm taps into nCipher
Unipalm, arguably the oldest distributor handling Internet and intranet products, has signed a major deal with nCipher, the Internet security technology firm. According to David Ellis, Unipalm's head of e-security, the exponential rise in Web servers and rapid growth of electronic transactions has opened up two key challenges for companies deploying these solutions - speed and security. "By combining acceleration technology with hardware key protection and advanced key management software, nCipher addresses these issues," he explained, adding that the market is poised for massive growth. "This means that value added resellers that partner with Unipalm and nCipher a competitive edge," he said. What's interesting about the distribution deal is that nCipher's products are highly complementary to existing Unipalm vendors such as iPlanet, Allaire, Stonesoft, Check Point, Red Hat and Intrusion.com. Could this be a new profit channel for dealers? Watch this space.

Secure Computing lands major OEM deal with HP
Secure Computing, the IT security firm, has signed a major OEM deal with Hewlett-Packard that will see the firm's SafeWord authentication application being resold as a standard feature of HP`s e-utilica instant e-service for application service providers (ASPs'). HP's e-utilica is a pre-integrated system that enables ASPs to offer businesses instant access to design collaboration applications and scalable computer capacity on a pay-per-use basis. This technology, HP claims, allows ASPs to to keep IT overheads low and providing a secure platform for e-business. SafeWord, meanwhile, provides positive ID and granular access controls allowing only the right people access to the information and resources they have permissions for. Secure Computing says that SafeWord also provides HP e-utilica users with a variety of authentication methods including fixed or dynamic passwords, hardware or software tokens, and biometrics. If you're a regular reader of this column, you've probably heard me talking about ASP's. They are going to be big in the near future - trust me. Dealers need to get into this market.

Network ICE signs up resellers
Network ICE, the firm responsible for the Black ICE Internet security package for `always-on' Internet users, is greatly expanding its reseller base across the UK and Europe. The firm has just signed its first ASP deal in the US, and is looking for similar deals in Europe. Dealers should be talking to the firm about handling the Black ICE end-user software, as well as the ICEpac security suite. To date, twenty-one resellers in eighteen countries have signed on to participate in Network ICE's international reseller programme - and more are needed. The firm says that resellers who sign up to the programme will be supported by experienced channel sales managers who will assist with sales and marketing programs, demonstrations, tutorials, collateral and press material. They will also receive co-operative marketing funds, as well as access to access to dedicated technical support staff plus one-on-one training - and a free copy of ICEpac with 20 agents for in-house use. For more on the reseller program, check out the company's Web site at www.networkice.com.

UK security revenues up 30 per cent in last year
Research just published by Rhetorik suggests that huge opportunities exist within the security market. The networking and security research firm said that 75 per cent of VAR's in the UK security solutions marketplace have seen an increase in sales of these products and services over the last 12 months. In addition to this, the firm notes that 86 per cent of VAR's predict further significant growth in the market over the next 12 months. According to Rhetorik, the increased demand is being fuelled by high profile IT security issues such as the infamous Love Bug virus, hacker conventions, high profile laptop thefts and so on. Richard Foskett, the firm's MD, said that there has been a significant change in end-user perceptions of the cost associated with security and this has impacted on the increase in demand for these products and solutions. "Unlike other security products, those associated with e-business are viewed as a corporate investment rather than a financial drain because companies investing in e-business-related security understand that doing so can give them a competitive advantage," he said.

Computer 2000 goes online with returns
As part of a programme to enhance online services to resellers, Computer 2000, the UK division of Tech Data, has launched InTouch Returns Online, a web-based facility for resellers who may need to return product to the distributor. The idea behind the service is that all return requests will now be dealt with via the Web - not the phone - so saving money and hassle all round. The service allows resellers to logon to Computer 2000 via InTouch and easily raise a request or view the status of any outstanding returns in progress. According to the C2000, the service will help resellers find information crucial to the return such as the invoice number and part number. Single line returns, the company says, will take around two minutes to raise; multi-line requests will simply take the time to make the additional keystrokes. Interestingly, the distributor says that around 20 per cent of its sales already come from orders placed electronically through InTouch and dedicated EDI links with major reseller customers.

Seagate opens its reseller marketplace
Seagate Technology has opened its Reseller Marketplace, the storage industry's first, collaborative, e-commerce marketplace offering resellers access to an online purchasing process for Seagate storage systems. The UK reseller marketplace at http://marketplace.seagate.com is billed as as an exclusive service for resellers participating in the Seagate Partner Program (SPP) and is designed to streamline the purchasing process for Seagate products. The online marketplace went live on July 17 this year and is serving the reseller community through Seagate's distributors, including Bell Microproducts, Ingram Micro, Synnex Information Technologies, and Tech Data. Additional channel partners are expected to participate in the online marketplace in the near future, the firm says.

Jungle, http://www.jungle.com;
Unipalm, 0044-1638-569600 (GB), http://www.unipalm.co.uk;
Secure Computing, http://www.securecomputing.com;
Network ICE, http://www..networkice.com;
Rhetorik, 0044-118-969-7900 (GB), http://www.rhetorik.com;
Computer 2000, 0044-1256-847505 (GB), http://www.computer2000.co.uk;
Seagate Technology, http://www.seagate.com


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