Computer Associates is targeting small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with a line of network management software and new distributor channels through which to sell them. By doing so, the company joins the swelling ranks of technology firms targeting Hong Kong's lucrative SME market. 'We have so many small- and medium-sized businesses that are beginning to be computerised,' Peter Liu, CA's area vice-president, said. SMEs buy about 27 per cent of the desktop and notebook PCs and PC servers sold in Hong Kong, market researcher International Data Corp says. CA North Asia marketing director Alex Jiang said banks would be 'a big target' because they had many branch offices outside of their headquarters. CA's Workgroup Edition software modules are aimed at businesses with up to 250 computers linked to one Windows NT server. CA last week released three modules in Hong Kong - AimIT, ShipIT and Remotely Possible. AimIT collects and maintains an inventory of hardware and software on computers in the network. It can detect and warn the network administrator when users alter any configurations on their terminal. Remotely Possible allows network administrators to control DOS- or Windows-based systems from an off-site PC, while ShipIT enables automatic installation and upgrades of operating systems, and files on to networked PCs from a remote terminal. AimIT and ShipIT are priced at US$495 each, while Remotely Possible costs $995. Versions of Workgroup Edition for Unix were planned for release in the near future, as were traditional Chinese versions of some modules, Mr Liu said. Other Workgroup Edition modules, including the FAXserveIT fax server utility and DoubleIT, a data-compression tool, were slated for release later. Some SME products released by corporate software stalwarts have been criticised by industry analysts and even competing vendors. They accuse the SME products of being little more than scaled-down components of titles for large companies, and therefore unsuitable for the needs of smaller businesses. Mr Liu said Workgroup Edition modules were 'based on the TNG technology, but they resolve certain problems for customers in the small enterprise environment'. Workgroup Edition was compatible with the framework of Unicenter TNG, CA's management software for large corporations, but was 'developed from the ground-up' to address SME needs, he said. CA will rely on new channel partners to help sell Workgroup Edition software to the SMEs. The company, which has traditionally relied on direct-sales channels to sell to big businesses, recently announced it was turning to indirect sales to bring in half of its revenues in the next three years. New local distributors include Tech Pacific, Laser Computer and JOS Distribution. Since SMEs typically did not employ IT managers, 'they will rely on the channel dealers and system integrators . . . to help them out', Mr Jiang said. 'They treat them like an IT staff [member].' CA's channel partners will sell the company's full range of software products, while the company will adopt a direct-sales approach for its Unicenter TNG and Enterprise Edition products for larger corporations.