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If there's another competitor in the video conferencing space making enough waves to get the attention of the incumbent players, it's Vidyo, which emerged from stealth mode in 2007 and has nudged its way into the channel with software-based video conferencing products growing in popularity.
For Rob Hughes, senior vice president of worldwide sales and support at Vidyo, the time is right for the company to snag new channel partners.
"A very large segment of the Cisco population is going to have a video product to sell in the not-too-distant future. That's the part I think is exciting, becuase we have a channel program developed from the very beginning that had a very significant emphasis on maintaining healthy margins," Hughes said. "It's not something new we have to scramble to invent just because Cisco is involved. You get Tandberg channels that had some problems with margins already, and now that's going to be accelerated."
"Vidyo is the most profitable video product they could sell," Hughes added. "Let's just say we don't think that resellers are happy making just the regular 10 to 12 points on what they sell for us."
So far, Vidyo's channel expansion has been deliberately paced: not slow, but not a saturation. Hughes said the company is looking to attract VARs who understand video in the context of the greater UC play, and look at video solutions for their value-adds, not their gear sales.
"I don't see big growth in the numbers of videoconferencing specialist VARs," Hughes said. "Most of the growth will come from hardware-oriented or software-oriented IP telephony VARs. We're starting to talk to the guys who are more desktop-centric about video communications."
Like his friend, LifeSize's Vitalone, Hughes is a well-traveled video conferencing channel executive, having come to Vidyo from Lifesize, and before that Radvision and VSGi. He is also a former vice president of North American channel sales at Polycom.
Hughes and Vitalone have different views from their respective perches -- Hughes sees software- and Web-based video conferencing tools as the wave of the future, Vitalone favors LifeSize's solid state architecture and believes people want appliances in their video infrastructure -- but both agree the Polycom and Tandberg channels are ripe for the picking.
That transformation, each suggested in separate interviews, will be gradual.
"Channels are very conservative. They're not likely to go pulling the plug on stuff super quickly," Hughes said. "The most immediate impact that we've had was the announcement about Sony pulling out of channel marketing in Europe. A lot of those guys were selling Sony specifically to not be selling Tandberg and Polycom, both of which are very broadly distributed in Europe. A lot of guys come to us and say, we don't just want to be another Polycom channel. We want options."
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