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More links in the chain

Technology Reseller finds out about the growing opportunities offered by D-Link’s expanding and diverse product range

If there’s one thing we have learnt during the coronavirus pandemic, it is the importance of connectivity and the requirement for ever more robust and secure links between multiple sites – home, office and cloud.

With 35 years’ experience in routers and switches, a fast expanding product range with 400 to 500 SKUs, a diverse customer base and an expanding partner community, networking specialist D-Link is well placed to capitalise on this demand.

“We have such a broad, high quality range and everybody wants more connectivity, so it is a good business to be in,” claims Paul Routledge, UK and Ireland Country Manager for D-Link.

“We go from a £19.99 smart plug to a top-of-rack datacentre switch costing thousands of pounds, and have multiple products in between – IP surveillance cameras for professional and home use, indoors and outdoors; thermal cameras; WiFi for home use or business use. There are 400, maybe 500, SKUs in our price list.”

As its product mix has continued to evolve, D-Link has become an increasingly interesting proposition for B2B resellers.

“I became country manager in 2014 and at that time we were very active in the B2C marketplace,” explains Routledge. “We haven’t abandoned B2C, but over the last six years we have looked at developing the B2B side of the business more, even entering new areas like industrial networking for security solutions, construction, warehousing. At the end of last year, we got involved in the CrossRail project, supplying industrial network devices for tunnelling machines, which is a world away from a £19.99 smart plug. There are so many areas of business that we touch.”

The benefits of having a diverse product range were demonstrated during lockdown when D-Link experienced a surge in demand for its B2C products, such as 4G Wi-Fi dongles and PoE injectors, as office workers strengthened their home networks. Now that businesses are re-opening their offices and reinforcing their IT infrastructure, Routledge is anticipating a swing back to the company’s B2B portfolio.

“In April we had a massive swing to B2C products, mainly 4G products but also PoE injectors that people were using to power the desk phones they took home, which we didn’t expect. They were plugging them into routers and needed power. Since May, we have seen a swing back to B2B-type products, to our business-class WiFi solutions and switching solutions. As our partners and, more importantly, their customers have returned, we have moved back to 65% business solutions and 35% consumer solutions, which is the ideal mix for us.”

Managed services appeal
D-Link sells its B2B solutions through a community of VIP Plus partners that benefit from training, incentives and rebates. Traditionally, it has concentrated on IT resellers, but with the launch of its Nuclias network management platform 18 months ago, Routledge says D-Link has become an attractive proposition for managed service providers (MSPs) as well.

“We are signing lots of partners from the MSP channel. We are also seeing some of our traditional VIP Plus partners move to more of a service model than the pure supply of goods. Nuclias offers itself really well to that type of business.”

He adds that D-Link has gradually been expanding the range of devices that can be managed remotely via the Nuclias platform, from Wi-Fi networks 18 months ago, to cloud-managed switches and soon cameras. Ultimately, the aim is to be able to manage any device across all deployment options.

“There is a pure cloud solution, where we host the solution in the cloud; there is a software solution, so an MSP can host it themselves rather than using our hosted facility; there is also a Nuclias Connect Hub that allows the management piece to sit on the customer site. One of the by-lines we use in marketing is ‘Your WiFi managed your way’: on-site, managed by your provider or managed by us in the cloud.”

New technologies
Nuclias is one of the key pillars on which D-Link plans to build future growth. Another, as Technical Pre-Sales Engineer Craig Kirby explains, is new technology, notably WiFi 6 and 5G

“We are hitting 5G from two angles. One is portability, where we combine WiFi6 and 5G in one device to provide mobile connectivity as you move around and travel. The other is fail-over 5G connectivity, where we build 5G into a standard router with a firewall to protect your home network or business network so that should the ADSL/VDSL/fibre internet connection go down you can jump over to a 5G connection.

“Something we have seen with 4G, and expect to see with 5G too, is people in certain parts of the country using 4G and 5G as their main connection, because they get better speeds, and using their (weak) ADSL connection as a back-up for sending email if there is a problem with 5G or they have run out of data or something like that.”

Pandemic solutions
In the meantime, D-Link is continuing to help resellers address the challenges organisations face in doing business during a pandemic, from creating a Covid-secure office to ensuring business-quality connectivity for employees who work from home.

It recently introduced an all-in-one fever-screening camera kit for scanning groups of up to 30 people simultaneously at entrances to offices, schools, hospitals, railway stations and other public spaces. The Group Temperature Screening Camera (DCS-9500T) is available from D-Link’s UK distributors Tech Data, Exertis and Ingram Micro.

It has also produced a guide to working from home, highlighting how D-Link products can be used to overcome the drawbacks of sharing bandwidth with other members of a household – something Routledge has experienced first-hand.

“When I first worked from home and spent time on Zoom calls, I had problems with my Wi-Fi because I was fighting for bandwidth with my children and my wife. Craig configured one of our Nuclias access points, which I plugged into the network access point outside my home office. I’ve now got my own network and don’t have to fight for WiFi anymore. It shows the same SSID I have when I am in the office, the same password when I am in the office, and I haven’t dropped a video call since. I’m no longer fighting for that WiFi signal inside the house. I’m still going out through that BT pipe, but I’m hard wired into the router.

“Craig can manage my network; he knows when I am online and when I am not online; when I am downloading and when I am not downloading. He can manage that whole ‘work from home’ experience so that we can all work from home more effectively.”

The guide also includes information on using D-Link access points as wireless extenders; using D-Link switching solutions and 4G and 5G connectivity to create a network; protecting oneself from cyber attack, for example through isolation at a wireless level or inserting another router behind a BT Home Hub; and, for larger organisations, rolling out Nuclias to manage all employees working from home.

In addition, D-Link has been producing training videos for the channel and end users showing, for example, how QoS with D-Link routers lets you manage bandwidth from a mobile phone app – you can see who’s connected, how much data people are using, isolate them, turn them off and make sure all your devices have enough bandwidth to do their job.

As Routledge says: “Everyone can be a network manager now.”

So, what else can resellers and MSPs expect from D-Link in the future? Quite a lot, reveals Routledge.

“We will put more meat on the 5G and WiFi 6 bones. There will be more solutions under the Nuclias umbrella. There’s more coming on the industrial networking side, and when I look at development in the UK – large warehouses being constructed that will be controlled by an industrial-type network solution – it’s clear there’s a lot more we can do around that locally. The camera side will continue to develop. I’ve touched on the thermographic camera, and how to manage entry to businesses is an area where we will see more development. I think that will be a very active, very interesting marketplace. Then, there is the whole home networking piece: how can we make it easier for people to work from home and ensure that their business data is absolutely secure.”

If you only know D-Link for its routers or its switches or its cameras or its wireless access points or its industrial networking, you are only looking at one link in the chain. The company has much else to discover and take advantage of, whether your market is consumer or B2B.

To find out more about becoming a D-Link partner, please visit:

https://eu.dlink.com/uk/en/partner-login.

d-link access points
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2020