Cisco Wraps Up E-Agent Partner Initiative

In a notice posted on its Web site, Cisco, San Jose, Calif., said it plans to take the last orders through the U.S. program July 30, discontinuing it July 31. The notice points partners to similar programs offered through Cisco distributors Comstor, Ingram Micro and Tech Data.

Launched in August 2001, the E-Agent Program aimed to free partners from the burden of carrying receivables and securing financing for product sales, enabling them instead to focus on service delivery.

A Cisco spokesman said the company is canceling the program because it realized distributors are better positioned to provide such services to its channel partners. The company began notifying the 160 participating partners of the program's demise June 30.

Several solution providers enrolled in E-Agent expressed little surprise at its termination, saying they used it infrequently.

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Some partners also said the program was cumbersome for their customers. "Most clients want to cut one purchase order toward a bid, but [under E-Agent] they had to cut one to us for services and one to Cisco for products," said Chris Vincent, vice president of sales and marketing at Global Data Systems, Lafayette, La.

Cisco's distributors have worked with the networking vendor for several months to ensure a smooth transition from the E-Agent Program, said Joe Serra, vice president of networking and high-end storage product marketing at Tech Data, Clearwater, Fla. "We've set up and trained internal staff and put processes in place with different financing options to minimize any exposure to lost business for our solution providers," Serra said.

Cisco's E-Agent Program was similar to Ingram Micro's existing Preferred Source Program, which offers agent services on behalf of vendors, said Ken Bast, senior director of global vendor business management at Ingram Micro, Santa Ana, Calif. "That makes it easy for Cisco's E-Agent solution providers to transition their business and keep on selling," Bast said.