Acer is going to use its lean op-ex structure to challenge rivals in the server market next year through the Gateway brand in EMEA.
The current Acer line-up will be phased-out in 2010 and replaced by a Gateway Tower, Rack, Blade and an HPC named Gemini, though product details were fairly sketchy at yesterday's press conference in Milan.
It plans to go after SME, government, vertical technology buyers and high performance computing users.
This is the next stage of Acer's multi-brand strategy - it also owns Packard Bell - and marks the wider development of its business portfolio, though SME's already account for 30% of sales worldwide.
Gianluca Degliesposti, global server business development vice president at Acer, told MicroScope that "We are going to be aggressive but we will also have room for [partner] margin".
"In SME, resellers decide the server they want to deliver to end-users because those customers don't have an IT department, the channel will play a key role," he said.
An obligatory three-tiered channel programme is due in the first quarter and Gateway will be recruiting from the existing band of PC reseller partners, from Acer's SME dealer community and from HP's channel base.
"HP wants to play with the channel but it also wants to go direct with the users," said Degliesposti. "Also in some cases HP is reducing the margin for the channel. The op-ex for HP is quite big while we are used to playing with a 3% to 4% margin."
In the UK HP employs more than 18,000 staff but Acer's global workforce stands at a little over 7,000.
The converged infrastructure is something that some of the major players in the market have been developing. Acer will co-brand HDS storage from tape to SAN, however it has not yet formally partnered a networking vendor in this push.
Michael Väth, HDS senior vice president for EMEA, said it was targeting SMEs with Acer because the PC maker had a proven track record of "building markets".
"We have got to get into the SME market to expand our coverage and market share," he told MicroScope.
From an operational standpoint, Acer is able to "price very, very low" and still make money given their operational structure said Crawford Del Prete, IDC executive vice president for worldwide research.
However he said, "In this market where things have commoditised, it is really about service and support, whether there is money to be made as a channel provider and if the vendor supports the right software."
He added that Acer was deploying an x86 platform, supporting standard software and has a model to allow resellers to make money and benefit from the provision of service and support.