CRN Exclusive: D&H Launches Cisco Meraki Channel Program To Help Partners Capture 'Vast' SMB Revenue Opportunity


D&H Distributing is rolling out an extensive collection of training, marketing and support resources focused on catalyzing partner sales and growth through the Cisco Meraki cloud networking platform.

The distributor's new "Driven" program aims to help solution providers win new wireless business at a time when small and medium-sized businesses are largely struggling with connectivity, access and wireless deployment. Many such organizations have inconsistent access between buildings and across sites, Vice President of VAR Sales Peter DiMarco told CRN, leaving wireless assessments and access optimization key market needs.

Those woes and Meraki's ease-of-use make the offering an ideal "trojan horse" for partners looking to capture that high demand, according to DiMarco, who said D&H has experienced at least 40 percent growth in its wireless business over the last four quarters.

[Related: D&H Co-President On SMB Cloud Adoption And Where He'd Like To Dominate In 2018]

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"It presents a great lead-in opportunity for a VAR to sit down with an SMB end user – potentially one they're not covering today – where they can go in and solve problems immediately," he said. "It's a vast opportunity."

Although Cisco maintains a massive channel ecosystem, SMB-focused solution providers often lack the size and revenue levels to be directly covered by its partner program. That made D&H an ideal investment choice for the networking giant, DiMarco said, given its SMB expertise and growing wireless business.

Through Driven, IT companies will have a chance to establish high-level specialization around Meraki and, in turn, take advantage of benefits afforded to higher-tier Cisco Select partners – benefits such as Meraki360 half-day remote training, Meraki Master certification training, Cisco Express Networking Specialization training vouchers, MDF support, marketing tools and access to back-end rebates.

"We're one of the few partners with the Meraki Master Training certification," DiMarco said. "We train Meraki partners every week through some format or vehicle, (providing) education on the platform, solutions, use cases and how to scale."

The program is administered by a team of more than 20 Cisco technical, sales and marketing support staff, including Meraki experts who focused on education and sales enablement.

For partners looking to establish a Meraki-centric wireless or mobility practice, DiMarco estimates a ramp-up time of roughly 180 days. The first half would be spent training sales and technical teams, and the latter half would involve the lead-up to sale and deployment, with partners making their personnel or management platform investments as needed.

There's another channel tie-in that exists for managed service providers: some, such as Cisco Premier partner Business Information Group (BIG), are relying on Meraki's cloud when deploying their on-site network and wireless management tools.

Mike Nitchman, BIG's vice president of operations, said Meraki has allowed his company expand its network operations center (NOC) by enabling rapid deployment of large firmware or security updates as well as a comprehensive view of the customer's network.

"In the past, on a non-cloud managed solution, we would have to individually remote into those networks and schedule those updates. The Meraki dashboard allows us to schedule those updates immediately or at 2 a.m.," Nitchman told CRN.

D&H's Driven program can further bolster that practice by providing with key training opportunities for BIG's engineers and salespeople, he added.

"Cisco is relying on us as a trusted partner to provide those technical and consulting services to make sure they get the right Cisco solution. D&H is providing that intermediate connection," Nitchman said.