The IT distribution industry has been through its fair share of vicissitudes over the past few years. Large players have vanished while smaller players have established themselves in this high-volume, low-margin game. DataNet, now part of the Pinnacle group, is one of the companies that has survived the rollercoaster ride and is looking forward to a bright future.
Moving from a company specialising in racking systems and enclosures from suppliers such as Modrac, as well as premise communications from companies like Molex Premise Networks, the company is now under new management with a broader scope of operations. Long-time distribution stalwart, David Lello has assumed the role as MD of DataNet and brought two other smaller distributors into the fold to round out the company's product offerings and improve its support capabilities.
Fumo Communications, a blown fibre specialist, and Basix Communications, a distributor of networking and communications products such as TrendNet and Avocent, have been merged into DataNet along with their respective employees and management.
The result, says Lello, is a distribution company able to serve any data delivery requirements customers may have. This includes passive and active equipment, as well as all transmission media, be it copper, fibre or wireless. And, most importantly, it also has the support capabilities to assist its installers and their clients where needed.
DataNet is headquartered in Wynberg, Sandton, with branches in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and Durban, from where it distributes to its installer channel.
Investing in fibre
Although the company has the skills and product set to cater for any data communications needs, Lello says DataNet is well placed to take advantage of the expected boost in fibre usage. Far from the days when fibre was extremely expensive and connecting fibre and copper cables a very intricate (and costly) job, today's connectors have come down in price by a factor of five. And as global copper prices increase, the attraction to fibre can only follow suit.
This combined with the South African telecommunications scenario where two fixed line operators, three cellular operators and a bunch of network providers are all looking to expand their reach, the future of fibre looks good. Not only does DataNet offer the products necessary for fibre networks, its incorporation of Fumo has also provided it with the skills needed to install and support long-haul fibre networks.
Of course that does not mean traditional premise networks are old news. On the contrary, technologies such as VoIP will keep pushing the boundaries of how much data CAT 5 and 6 cabling can carry. In addition, security is being incorporated into data networks, also delivering video and data in realtime, demanding reliable bandwidth. Corporations will have to ensure their networks can support this newcomer without hampering the flow of business data.
Once again, DataNet has the products and skills to ensure assistance in the design, installation and effective maintenance of these systems.
The primary brands in the DataNet offering include some traditional names such as Modrac and Molex, as well as DataNet's own brand of premise network solutions, DataZone. This in-house range will be boosted later this year with the launch of TalkZone and SecureZone products for VoIP and security installations.
Sales of enclosures, from Modrac for example, have not dropped as DataNet focuses on a broader market, but are expected to increase with the launch of an environmentally controlled enclosure with a full security system. This enclosure has an internal camera to monitor who uses the system and a GSM modem that allows administrators to be alerted of any changes in temperature, fire, humidity etc, as well as any unauthorised access attempts. The system can even send a unique pass-code to a user requiring access to the system via SMS.
With magnetic locks and realtime remote surveillance, this 'server room in a rack' is ideal for branch office expansion. DataNet says such systems can be assembled and ready to run in four to six hours.
DataNet also continues to provide products from Transition Networks, Avocent and TrendNet to clients to ensure the company offers a rounded portfolio that allows it to live up to its vision of enabling all forms of data delivery.
The company currently meets the minimum BEE requirements, but Lello says management is focused on improving this and sourcing and training more black technical skills. "There are many opportunities out there, but a lack of skills affects all companies in South Africa. DataNet plans to be able to fill that gap and deliver the best products and skills to its installers and their clients," Lello concludes.
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