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End of an era as DiData ditches its distie

The ComTech era passes as Express Data goes to Dicker Data

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In the early 1990s, a mighty force arose in the Australian IT industry. Led by the charismatic Shein brothers, ComTech became a distribution colossus, fuelling the rise and rise of Microsoft and Cisco.

ComTech's Sunshine Coast-based Forums were legendary – a who's who of Australian IT turned up, got legless, and either made deals or forged the relationships that sparked later transactions. The Sheins decorated their office with sporting memorabilia and the good times rolled.

At one Forum – in either 1996 or 1997- ComTech even hosted a young Marc Andreessen on his first trip outside the United States, to show off its new distribution agreement with Netscape.

The Sheins hailed from South Africa, so the 2001 acquisition of ComTech by that nation's Dimension Data was no surprise.

Dimension Data had already sniffed the wind and figured out that services, not distribution, was a far better long-term bet. Its Australian operations therefore split off its distribution arm as Express Data.

And so it went for a decade or more. Dimension Data gathered pace around the world, eventually attracting a $US3.24 billion takeover by Japan's NTT. Express Data sailed on, merrily shifting boxes across Australia and New Zealand.

Until today, when it was announced it would be taken over by Dicker Data.

Express Data's new owner is a good fit: just last week Dicker Data announced it had been anointed as a Microsoft distributor for OEM software as well as Full Packaged Products and Services.

Every indication suggests it will be business as usual for Express clients under the Dicker banner.

But veterans of Australian IT will know this is the end of an era, as the story of perhaps Australia's best example of a VAR clambering its way up the global ladder comes to an end of sorts. ®

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