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Cisco is fond of touting video as the "killer app," and has for much of the past year been urging partners to invest in video strategies. In a move to drastically expand its own video presence in the channel, Cisco this month finished acquiring Tandberg, by most estimations the worldwide market share leader for videoconferencing.
Solution providers welcomed the deal for the muscle Cisco brings to the space, though with the Tandberg portfolio now exposed to the galaxy of Cisco partners, they also worry about squeezed margins for Tandberg-driven video deployments.
Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco's Emerging Technologies Group, and one of Cisco's top executives in charge of new and growing markets, sat down with ChannelWeb.com Networking Editor Chad Berndtson at this week's Cisco Partner Summit in San Francisco to hear more about why Tandberg is so significant an acquisition for Cisco and why video is crucial for every Cisco partner.
Video has been around for a while as a channel play but there are still a lot of folks out there who see traditional video endpoint re-sale and are only starting to understand the broader opportunity. How do you articulate that opportunity to them?
When it comes to video, we've been on this bandwagon for about three years and investing in this space for about five. But I think people are seeing this happening -- we have reached an inflection point. I don't seen every Cisco partner jumping on, but there are more customers asking for this, and I think we'll continue to see more and more interest from partners as well. If we over-distribute, that's not good, and we want to be smart about it. But I will say that Tandberg was a big, bold move that gives us an additional 1500 partners we didn't have before, partners that are big believers in video. They will have access now to bigger opportunities and also the ability to tie video to the network.
But even if you're just selling routing and switching, every partner needs to understand video and know that there is a play and know to make a choice whether they want to invest aggressively or just scale what they do today. That's their choice. The trend is inevitable, you can't argue with that. And one thing I didn't say [in De Beer's keynote] this morning is that we have consistently under-guessed the growth of video. We have been wrong every year, it's always exceeded our expectations.
It's been growing all a long, and we've been saying video is going to be the next big thing for so many years, but what's changed that makes this year 'the year'? Availability?
We entered this market on the very end and we invested a lot in creating TelePresence, which is the market name we used for high-end video conferencing, because we wanted to show customers that there is a better way than the remote control. It can be both a great experience and easy to use. We did that but our system has been very expensive. The big bold move with Tandberg is to round out the entire portfolio, starting with an HD webcam at $199 and all the way up to a full, three-screen TelePresence system. It's a transformational deal not just for Cisco but for the industry as a whole. Many partners have told me that and it's exciting for everyone involved. Everyone will benefit in a big way.