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The New Benchmark by Which Distributors Are Measured

The yardstick for measuring the effectiveness of technology distributors has become exceedingly narrow. Most would agree that distribution competitiveness is currently measured as a function of component price and time-to-delivery for their reseller partners. Competing for new and expanded business opportunity using these criteria is tough, because of the maturity of distribution models and distributor practices which look largely the same from one to the next.

At Bell Micro, leadership appears to be changing the rules of how distributors are measured by gearing up to meet the unique requirements of specialized categories of partners. One such segment of partners is the group called embedded systems manufacturers, also known as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) partners. This group designs and offers their own solutions built on embedded technologies, and this group has specialized requirements for how they do business. Bell Micro has been in the business of meeting unique program requirements for OEM partners since the late 90’s.

In June 2008, Bell Micro expanded their OEM-Ready programs and product offering working with HP. This is a significant change in the market, providing OEM teams with ready access to market-leading ProLiant server systems along with other HP branded technology systems. These technologies are supported by Bell Micro’s proven OEM-Ready programs, which are designed to meet the unique requirements of how OEM organizations do business.

At the same time that Bell Micro has geared up to support OEM businesses, a transformation has been taking place in the OEM world as embedded systems manufacturers switch from designing and manufacturing their own custom motherboards to relying upon “white box” off-the-shelf components and branded equipment in the construction of their systems. What may not be intuitive as this transformation occurs are the hidden costs and risks associated with going from components that one has designed and built from the ground up to using components that show up on your dock in a shrink-wrapped box. It turns out that which equipment you build on – and who you pick to get it from – can make or break you OEM business.

Just some examples of new costs and concerns that should be considered by OEM teams include:

  • Availability of replacement parts should one fail
  • Component quality and manufacturing consistency
  • The design and engineering that went into the manufacture of the component
  • How well the different components within the white box interoperate
  • Service and support for these components by the white box manufacturer while in the field

While there are obviously more concerns than this, it brings to the forefront that new forces are now in play. After all, if you are to use generic “white boxes” in the construction of the systems that you put your name on and send out into the field, right now you are the one taking all of the risk. So if an internal component fails, or some components don’t work together as designed, who is your customer going to call? Anyone who thinks that your customer is going to hold anyone accountable other than you, the OEM, is kidding themselves.

These are the exact concerns that Bell Micro identified among its clients and that it is looking to address through its new distributor relationship with HP. By partnering with and distributing HP’s line of products, Bell Micro brings a “brand” new value proposition that embedded systems manufacturers, and even their customers, need to consider that go well beyond the traditional price and delivery benchmarks by which distributors are so often evaluated.

Watch this space as we explore the many ways in which Bell Micro OEM-Ready programs combined with HP product technologies offer unique ROI advantages to OEM business teams. We will also highlight Bell Micro executive leadership responsible for transforming distributor business practices and you can also visit Bell Micro’s home page at to see how it is transforming itself in today’s competitive envirionment. We invite your active feedback and participation: let us know the questions you would like us to ask and answer as we cover this exciting market segment.


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