Avnet Nabs Cisco Authorization for Data Center Products

Distributor to resell vendor’s Unified Computing System gear, eyes Vblock packages.

December 22, 2009
By

D.H. Kass

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Avnet Technology Solutions said it will distribute data center products from Cisco Systems Inc., including the vendor’s Unified Computing System equipment, to value-added resellers in North America.

Company officials said that the distributor will carry the Nexus line of switches, MDS family of fiber channel SAN switches, Catalyst E-Blade switches, UCS blade and rack servers, Application Control Engine and WAN Optimization products.

Avnet, which also handles Hewlett-Packard Co.’s data center products, joins Ingram Micro Inc., Tech Data Corp. and Westcon Group in Cisco’s distribution lineup.

Avnet said that Cisco’s data center products will enable its resellers to provide complete solutions to their customers.

“Our new distribution agreement with Cisco will enable Avnet’s channel partners to address the data center market holistically with an exciting class of products designed to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs,” said Jeff Bawol, Avnet president.

With the Cisco data center agreement in tow, Bawol said that the distributor now may turn its attention to garnering permission to sell the Vblock infrastructure packages, a series of pre-configured and pre-tested solutions associated with the Virtual Computing Environment coalition formed last month by Cisco, EMC Corp. and VMware.

“We’re excited to see how the Cisco, EMC and VMware products are coming together to form solutions, which we’ve seen a real need for in the data center market,” Bawol said.

“For years, Avnet has been focusing on becoming a true solutions distributor,” he said. “We feel that the VCE’s approach aligns extremely well with our solutions strategy.”

Avnet already maintains “long-standing relationships with two of the players in the VCE—EMC and VMware,” he said.

Avnet said that it will create a dedicated Cisco business unit to foster and support sales of the vendor’s products, as have its rivals Ingram and Tech Data. Westcon’s Comstor group specializes in Cisco gear.

The unit will be headed by Chris Swahn, who will serve as its vice president and general manager, reporting to Bawol.

Bawol said that details framing the dedicated group had not yet been finalized, including when it will become operational and the number of staffers that will support the business, other than the expectation that it will house sales, marketing and technical personnel.

Avnet’s technical skills key to securing Cisco deal

Central to Avnet’s landing the Cisco deal is its technical and integration capabilities, Bawol said. The distributor plans to offer a collection of consulting, integration, implementation and managed services to complement Cisco’s data center solutions.

“As the lifecycle matures for Cisco’s UCS B-class offerings, Avnet will be able to stock and configure the products, giving our VAR community a distinct advantage when designing complex blade solutions for their customers,” he said.

The distributor also said it intends to develop marketing enablement programs to dovetail with existing technology-focused initiatives it currently runs, including its SecurePath, StoragePath and VirtualPath practices designed to help partners bring solutions to market.

“We are confident that Cisco VARs will benefit from several proven programs that we have in place designed to target key areas of the data center, including virtualization, storage and security,” Bawol said.

He said that Avnet will also assist data center resellers to reach specific vertical segments.

“We help VARs target specific verticals, including healthcare and government, and our HealthPath and GovPath programs will help Cisco resellers expand their reach into the data center even further.”

Bawol said that Avnet will rely on a three-part methodology it has developed to help channel partners “quickly engage in new market opportunities.”

The component parts include identifying markets and technology opportunities with growth potential, training and equipping partners to pursue those opportunities, and helping resellers to bring solutions to market that meet their customers’ needs.

Dave O’Callaghan, Cisco vice president of worldwide distribution channels, praised the distributor for its “technical experience and sophisticated integration capabilities.”

He said that Avnet’s skill set will help Cisco resellers to capitalize on new sales opportunities in the data center market.

An Avnet channel partner, World Wide Technology Inc., a $3 billion system integrator headquartered in St. Louis, MO, said that the “addition of Cisco to Avnet’s line card will allow us to expand in the highly lucrative data center market, while directly addressing our customers’ needs for efficient, low-maintenance and cost-effective environments.”

TAGS: virtualization,data center,Cisco,Unified Computing System,Avnet



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