Communications and networking solutions provider, SnapperNet, has just turned ten years old.
To celebrate the milestone the company hosted an Auckland harbour cruise for its resellers and suppliers last week.
But before the Champaign corks are popped, we caught up with Director Richard Paul (pictured) to discuss the last ten years of channel business in New Zealand.
Describe the New Zealand channel when SnapperNet first launched.
We took the plunge and started a distribution business focusing solely on data communications products because we had a feeling that the SoHo/SME network market was about to take off. Our customer base, at the time, consisted mainly of local PC Assemblers who were dealing mostly in the SME sector. They were buying 10Mbps and 10/100Mbps Network Interface cards because a lot of PC motherboards still didn’t have on-board NICs.
We also had some very successful vertical market resellers who were doing clever things with dial-on-demand routers, RAS, and IP sharing gateways so their customers could run software from a head office (a sign of bigger things to come).
When we launched in 2001, networking products were still relatively complicated and required some engineering skill to configure. They were also quite expensive (by today’s standards). It was also early days for Wireless LAN. 802.11 (notice there’s no letter after the 11). Access Points worked at ‘up to’ 2Mbps and cost around $1500 ea. Ethernet Hubs were still common place, most were 10Mbps and included a BNC port so you could connect them to your coax network. The first 8 port Ethernet switch we sold had 7 10Mbps RJ45 ports and a 100Mbps RJ45 port and cost $2500.
Through the mid 2000’s products got easier to configure and came down in price. Our sales volumes increased as networking products started appealing to a broader group of people. This also attracted new competitors. Even motherboard manufactures were getting in on the act.
The economic events of the last couple of years have seen some of the weeding out of under-performing players.
What have been the biggest changes in the channel over the last ten years from your perspective?
Mass market adoption of broadband over the last 10 years precipitated a huge increase in demand for VPN gateways, UTM Firewalls, VoIP products and NAS technology.
What technologies have affected the channel model?
Resellers are focusing less on break-fix services and more on managed services. This has lead to demand for the right tools to supplement this model.
The role of the server has changed significantly thanks to the cloud, virtualisation and task specific appliances.
So where is SnapperNet at now and what’s next?
Recently we’ve been very busy with some big firewall, VPN and UTM projects in the Education sector and with Retail head-office to Branch-Store VPN applications.
The roll out of the ‘Ultra Fast Broadband’ Fiber Network has us very excited. Faster speeds will bring a raft innovative new products and services for business.