ScanSource Catalyst Says It's 'Doubling Down' On Cisco Partnership


A year after adding adding Cisco's voice, video and collaboration tools to its line card, distributor ScanSource Catalyst said its relationship with the vendor is being “amplified,” with a “doubling down” of new investments and resources.

At its 1Comm Partner Conference in Savannah, Ga., this week ScanSource Catalyst and ScanSource Communications President Rich Long took to the stage to talk up a revved-up partnership.

"It is the first time at our partner conference showing Cisco as part of our line card. It is a big deal," said Long. The distributor is adding team members and resources to support Cisco’s products, with heavy training for the sales organization. A separate team manages and supports the Cisco product line, he said, with a separate support model.

[Related: Cisco Reports Better-Than-Expected Q3, Says ACI 'Gaining Significant Market Traction']

Having Cisco unified communications as part of the ScanSource portfolio gives channel partners a choice, said Richard McLeod, Cisco's senior director of Worldwide Channels, who shared the stage with Long.

"We're very excited about it. [ScanSource is a] very strong value-added distributor. We think they bring great value to the channel," McLeod said. "We think a lot of their partners are looking for choice, and we think we bring a portfolio of choice."

CRN spoke with some partners at ScanSource's conference who said the addition of Cisco doesn’t necessarily mean they will leave their established partnerships. ScanSource said it doesn't release numbers on how many partners buy specific vendor offerings and declined to comment on how many partners have picked up the newly added Cisco products.

Bob Plessett, principal at Doral, Fla.-based Teleswitch, said Teleswitch already partners with ShoreTel, among other vendors, and it doesn't plan to add Cisco to the mix.

"There's only so much that we can digest,” said Plessett. Cisco’s products compete directly with those of some of the major vendors in ScanSource and Teleswitch’s portfolio, he said.

Mike Carney, senior vice president of strategy and development at AGC Networks, Irving, Texas, said ACG already sells some Cisco networking products and has looked at some of the other Cisco offerings.

Cisco is the only vendor that really has the full suite of applications for the enterprise, but that doesn't mean that companies will take on a single vendor for all of their technology. It is in a solution provider’s best interests to diversify, he said.

"In the end, you'll never find a customer who can use that application and call it best-of-breed for them. That's not as important to me, but it still provides a route for one-stop-shop for things," Carney said.

XFER Communications CEO Mike Hartke and Vice President Brandon Hartke said the company has strong relationships with ShoreTel and Allworx, among other vendors. XFER has not picked up any Cisco business yet, but both executives said it’s not out of the question.

"I think we're going to at least open the door and explore, which is something we hadn't even considered prior to this," said Brandon Hartke. In particular, he said he was interested in Cisco’s videoconferencing offerings because many of XFER’s customers have been looking to add on video technologies. The cloud-based videoconferencing is a "really good value-add service," he said, that could help give the company a competitive edge.

ScanSource’s Long said there has been an “exciting buzz” around the unified communications portion of Cisco’s portfolio in particular. "We're excited for it play out," he said.

PUBLISHED MAY 15, 2014