Tech Data Sees Hybrid Cloud Opportunity For Partners With Meraki Managed Wi-Fi Offering


Tech Data has expanded its Cisco portfolio with the addition of Meraki's suite of cloud and managed Wi-Fi services, a move the distributor said is a huge opportunity for resellers looking to break into hybrid cloud markets. 

“We've been wanting to add it since Day 1 because it definitely adds SMB and midmarket opportunities for our partners from a product solutions offering [as well as] the ability to make the transition to hybrid cloud easier for partners. This is definitely an opportunity we've been waiting for for a while," Angela Beltz, vice president of Tech Data's Cisco Solutions Group, said.

The news comes just a few weeks after Harrisburg, Penn.-based D&H also announced a distribution agreement with Meraki. While other distributors, including D&H and Santa Ana, Calif.-based Ingram Micro, are already offering the technology, Beltz said Tech Data will distinguish itself through enablement, namely through its Momentum program.

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"A lot of other distributors, they're just positioning it as there's a product, here's a solution, whereas were positioning it as a cloud solution and supporting it with an enablement strategy ... no one else is doing that in our competition," Beltz said.

Although the technology falls under Tech Data's Enterprise Networking Group, from a Cisco perspective the technology is being positioned as part of a hybrid cloud strategy, Beltz said. For the many reseller partners looking to dip their toes into the cloud, Beltz said that Meraki and its cloud-managed Wi-Fi is a great place to start.

"From our perspective, looking at what we have built around enablement solutions and architectures and also looking at the Cisco-powered cloud services that we offer, this actually, I would say, is giving us a bit of a launching pad into transforming into our hybrid cloud practice," Beltz said.

"For partners, it seems to be an opportunity that lands in their laps. It is not hard to sell or transition," she added.

On top of the cloud, Tech Data Cisco Solutions Group Business Development Manager Michelle Curtis, said the Meraki addition is a great way to open up the Cisco portfolio to Tech Data partners with lower-level Cisco certifications.

Audrey Levi, partner at Miami, Fla.-based ITPointe, said she usually builds Meraki as part of a packaged Cisco solution, so having them all under one roof makes billing, administrative and customer processing tasks much easier. ITPointe is a Tech Data, Cisco and Meraki partner

"By having it there we can blend it with everything else we do," Levi said. "This just makes it an extension."

For partners not already invested in the Meraki and Cisco ecosystems, Levi said she has found a lot of opportunities driven by the managed wireless technology, especially in the education and hospitality verticals. Meraki, which was bought by Cisco in a 2012 blockbuster $1.2 billion acquisition  appeals to customers who specifically want Cisco technology. On the flip side, customers with a Cisco aversion are also drawn to the technology because it's under its own brand. It's a win-win situation for ITPointe, Levi said, saying that the company could use "both ends of the double-edged sword."

Levi said she hoped with the announcement of Meraki joining the Tech Data portfolio that the distributor would be able to prevent previous issues she has seen with stocking of the wireless technology. She said she has had a great history of being able to get orders quickly from Tech Data and hopes the same will hold for the Meraki line.

"I know this has been an issue and it's been a Meraki, not a Tech Data issue. We're hoping slowly but surely this will be more popular and will be stocked in distribution so it makes the process cleaner," Levi said.

PUBLISHED JULY 10, 2014