Cisco VARs should make advanced technology play

Cisco VARs should make advanced technology play

As Cisco prepares for continuing growth, partners can expect to grab a slice of the pie in the advanced technology solution arena including IP telephony, storage, security and wireless deployments.

“The journey is continuing,” managing director of Cisco Systems Australia and New Zealand, Ross Fowler, said. “We are confident the growth is continuing in the industry.”

Cisco Systems senior vice-president of operations, processes and systems, Randy Pond, said Cisco was seeing renewed growth thanks to the expansion into the advanced technology solutions business.

“We’ve expanded the market in a useful way, but it doesn’t take us away from our knitting,” he said.

Denial, arrogance and nostalgia characterse many organisations, but Cisco wasn’t one of them, Pond said.

The company recognises the need to change and was integrating its business processes with IT applications and networks.

As part of the growing momentum, Cisco is on a push to jazz up IP telephony in the SMB space. Developer and distributor, Performance Solutions, for example, showcased its IP telephony tool for SMBs at the show.

The IPFX tool is an all-in-one communication solution for small business.

Cisco also saw strong growth in security, Pond said, and the company was on a push to generate demand for its self-defending network technology. Through a collaboration with Network Associates, Symantec and Trend Micro, the self-defending network initiative helped customers identify, prevent and adapt to security threats.

The Cisco Network Admission Control (NAC) is the first program announced under the initiative.

“You need ubiquitous security in the network to make it all work,” he said.

“And all of us have to play a role in this.”

With storage, resellers could peddle a range of switches and make money in deploying storage area networks, Fowler said.

And while wireless LAN adoption was taking longer than expected, in part because of security concerns, Fowler said adopting the technology could help end-users reduce implementation costs.

Pond said Cisco was helping partners focus on profitability, particularly in the advanced technology arena such as IP telephony.

But the company wanted to encourage VARs to become more aggressive in capturing business.

Resellers had relied too heavily on lead generation in the past — often being spoon fed the business leads, he said. As a result, end-users didn’t always recognise the reseller in the equation.

The company wanted to change the scenario and help end-users see the value of a reseller.

Because the reseller may get lost in the shuffle, Cisco has played a more dominant role in the implementation.

“We sweep in, take most of the margin and they [the resellers] are unhappy,” Pond said.

As such, a focused approach was to collaborate and plan account activity, he said.

At the recent Cisco event in Hawaii, the company unveiled a reward program to help partners unearth business opportunities. The same strategy, centred around a “hunt, grow and adapt” mantra, is being rolled out in Australia and New Zealand.

“We don’t want to have a situation where the partner waits for a Cisco rep,” Fowler said. “We want them to go out and get business. There are too many partners in fulfilment mode.”

In addition to trawling for business, resellers need to also deploy better process management, Pond said.

“VARs can embed a small consulting aspect into their business — and this will bring an aspect of process knowledge,” he said.

The company was setting up a channel program to target the market, he said.

In this space, Cisco plans to go after market dominators D-Link and Netgear — both companies offer an attractive price point — in the Australian market.

“We will disrupt this market a bit,” Fowler said.

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