Cisco Woos Thousands Of Wireless Partners With New Distribution Deal


Through the partnership, which focuses on the Cisco Unified Wireless Network lineup of products, Cisco for the first time is adding a distributor to support a specific technology, said Julie Hens, senior director of U.S. and Canada distribution for the San Jose, Calif., networking giant. Cisco has authorized ScanSource to carry its wireless portfolio as a specialty distributor in the United States only.

"We're gaining access to thousands of wireless partners that are not currently part of our network," Hens said.

Cisco expects the move to help accelerate the growing wireless market opportunity, she said. The enterprise WLAN market is expected to reach $3.5 billion by 2010, up from $1.5 billion in 2006, according to the research firm Dell'Oro Group.

Plans call for ScanSource to carry Cisco's entire wireless mobility portfolio except for its wireless mesh products, which could be added later, Hens said. ScanSource will also carry other Cisco products that might serve as building blocks of wireless solutions, such as low-end routers and switches, as well as some of its Adaptive Security Appliances.

Sponsored post

Cisco historically has been stingy in granting U.S. distribution partnerships. Its addition of D&H Distributing in July 2005 to focus on the small- and midsize-business market marked the first change to the vendor's distribution ranks in a decade. Its long-standing distribution partners include Ingram Micro, Tech Data and Westcon Group's Comstor division.

By adding ScanSource to the mix, Cisco will gain access to solution providers with vertical market expertise, since many of the distributor's partners specialize in retail and manufacturing solutions, said Mike Baur, president and CEO of ScanSource, Greenville, S.C.

Some of the vendors that ScanSource carries, such as mobile device maker Intermec, already have technology partnerships with Cisco, creating strong opportunities for channel partners to tie together technology from the two vendors, Baur said. The extra service and support capabilities that ScanSource will bring around Cisco's wireless infrastructure also should help spur sales of the technology among its partner base, he added.

"Our partners are in there creating demand and have the ability to influence -- if not actively decide -- what the wireless infrastructure looks like," Baur said. "Now they can more confidently sell Cisco solutions because they're sure of the integration."

Pete Palazzolo, director of marketing at ICS, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based solution provider, said the Cisco-ScanSource partnership should help speed his firm's deployment of wireless solutions.

"We've been selling Cisco wireless infrastructure to go with Intermec hardware and putting it together at the client location, but we had to order them [separately]. It was more to juggle for us," he said.

ScanSource expects to have fast-track training and certification programs up and running for partners this quarter, Baur said.