Gateway readies partner managed services

The launch of the new Gateway PCs may have been delayed by several months - orders were finally placed by Computer 2000 yesterday - but the Acer-owned company is lifting the covers off its managed service next week at Channel Expo.

The launch of the new Gateway PCs may have been delayed by several months - orders were finally placed by Computer 2000 yesterday - but the Acer-owned company is lifting the covers off its managed service next week at Channel Expo.

Desktops and notebooks originally earmarked for a March release should hit the channel mid-June or at the latest 1 July, but the arrival of the Gateway hosted remote and monitoring service is imminent.

The delays were connected to ironing out some creases in the pan-European distribution contract with Tech Data and a lack of resource to train the distributor on selling the managed service.

"From a product perspective there were no delays," said Philip Ashkar, managing director for the UK and Ireland at Gateway, who added servers would be available in the second half of the year but would not be more specific.

However next week Gateway will become the first PC vendor to launch a branded managed service for VARs, based on Level Platforms' Manager Workplace 2009 software platform which can also operate on rivals' hardware.

"Resellers want to differentiate themselves, go after more business at a lower cost and that is what they can achieve with our managed service," said Ashkar.

The VAR can remotely download software updates or patches, monitor any device IP address to diagnose and remediate issues, create weekly or quarterly reports to consult with customers on the frequency of alerts and response times.

Jeff Campbell, Level Platforms vice president for strategic accounts said it was helping resellers to reduce field visits, repair problems more quickly, cheaply and proactively and generate consultancy services.

"Customers are getting the perception of better performance, predictable and lower support the complexity of IT is mitigated by the service provider the [customer's] propensity to adopt more technology increases," he said.

The Gateway systems are based on Intel's vPro platform which includes features such as Active Management Technology that allows remote access to an infrastructure and paves the way for VAR services.

However justifying why businesses should refresh in the midst of the recession was "the challenge at the feet of the providers of equipment and services" said Graham Palmer, Intel managing director for the UK.

The increased cost of supporting a three year old client - there are over 300 million out there say analysts - and server chip performance gains that made consolidation easier were tenants of any argument to stimulate investments, he claimed.

On top of professional services, Gateway is also giving VARs the option to provide their own maintenance services or use a third party provider.

"Some of competitors go after that services business themselves, we are not in that business...most of the partners we've talked to have the services capability and this is music to their ears," said Ashkar.

With plans to recruit no more than 25 staff across Europe - even leaner than parent Acer - Gateway will not have the capacity to compete with the albeit limited number of partners in the first phase of its channel development.

Mark Glasspool, general manager for PC systems at C2000, said it initially planned to recruit 30 to 40 Gateway Business First Partners - the forthcoming channel programme - but the ultimate aim was 50.

"We have more partners looking to join than we are bringing on board, the predictability of the rebate, the simple bid process and the ability to provide services is creating genuine interest," he told MicroScope.

The much maligned cow skin motif sported by Gateway has disappeared along with its presence on the High Street and the direct sales operation.

Partners could make all the difference this time around as Gateway returns to the shark infested waters that have become the European PC market.



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