Solution providers have mixed opinions on Cisco's new program to sell products targeted at the SMB and SOHO markets via its Web site.
"My initial reaction is to get a little concerned," said John Freres, president of Meridian IT Solutions, Schaumburg, Ill. "But [the program really is the fulfillment model, and we don't do that."
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The new program is an extension of a pilot program begun in September 2001.
Beginning this week, customers shopping for lower-end networking gear via the Web will have the option of buying the product from one of four online direct marketers or from a Cisco partner, said Surinder Brar, senior director of worldwide channels marketing at Cisco. Only named account customers that have a direct-purchasing relationship with Cisco will be able to buy product direct from Cisco, Brar said.
Web shoppers can choose from among 45 offerings, including the Aironet 350 and 1200 product families, Catalyst 2950 and 3550 switch families and the Cisco 1700 product family.
Once they have selected the products, customers are asked whether they want to buy from an online reseller or from a Cisco partner. Customers who prefer the online direct-marketer route will be able to choose from among CDW, Insight, PC Connection and Micro Warehouse. Customers who want to buy from a Cisco partner are sent to Cisco's partner locator page.
Gary Berzack, president of Tribeca Technologies, a New York-based wireless specialist, said because the site includes Cisco's wireless lines, it is "disappointing and truly disenfranchising."
Cisco believes it is more efficient for somebody that wants a single item costing $1,000 or less to buy it online, Berzack said. "But we have customers who would be buying 30 or more of these [products as well as our design services and implementation," he said. "This program pegs the price and validates the online reseller with a preferred status. You can bet that all the big customers are going to go click there, too."