Avnet Adds Cisco Data Center Products

Cisco has added a new enterprise focused distribution ally in its bid to take a bite out of Hewlett Packard's data center hide.

Avnet Technology Solutions has been tabbed to carry Cisco Systems' data center products in the United States and Canada, including Cisco's highly touted Unified Computing System blade server.

The deal ends weeks of speculation that Avnet would soon pick up the Cisco line. Avnet joins specialty distributor Westcon Group and broadline distributors Ingram Micro and Tech Data as distributors of Cisco's Unified Computing System.

The deal gives distribution powerhouse Avnet for the first time the ability to distribute Cisco products in North America. Avnet is also one of HP's top distributors.

As part of the deal, Avnet will carry the Nexus data center family of switches, the MDS family of fiber channel SAN switches, Catalyst E-Blade switches Unified Computing System (UCS) blade and rack servers, Application Control Engine (ACE) and WAN Optimization (WAAS) products.

"With the incredible amount of convergence taking place within the data center, it is critical to provide customers with complete solutions designed to address their business challenges," said Jeff Bawol, president of Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas, in a statement. "[This] will enable Avnet's channel partners to address the data center market holistically with an exciting class of products designed to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs."

Earlier in the week, Avnet CEO Roy Vallee addressed the Cisco rumors at the Raymond James IT Supply Chain Conference in New York, noting that the distributor was talking with Cisco and that it was important for Avnet to increase its presence in the networking world.

"We started the business in servers. We added storage, software products to create solutions. We've done lot of work around virtualization and vertical markets like health care. As communications increases, the need for us [to be in networking] rises," Vallee said Tuesday. "The strategy to this point has been 'ABC,' all but Cisco.. We've been adding franchise relationships around the world. With their market share, they would be a key [addition]. We need to be there."

Avnet plans to offer a suite of consulting, integration, implementation and managed services to complement the Cisco products and also will also develop market enablement programs based for its SecurePath, StoragePath and Avnet VirtualPath initiatives.

"Avnet brings proven expertise in helping partners extend their reach into new markets and customer segments," said Dave O'Callaghan, vice president of distribution, worldwide channels for Cisco, in a statement. "Avnet has deep technical experience and sophisticated integration capabilities. We feel confident that these attributes will help Cisco and our channel partners accelerate our mutual success in the data center market and capitalize on new revenue-generating opportunities."

Avnet is developing a dedicated business unit to sell and service the Cisco data center product suite, a group that will be led by Chris Swahn, vice president and general manager of the business unit.

Swahn has more than 20 years of channel experience. Throughout his career, Swahn has focused on creating a culture of excellence within sales teams, exceeding goals and helping Avnet's suppliers and reseller partners succeed.

"Avnet has helped us successfully grow our business in several technology areas that play a critical role in the data center, such as security, storage and virtualization," said Bob Olwig, vice president of corporate business development for World Wide Technology, Inc., a $2.6 billion St. Louis based solution provider that is number 52 on the VAR 500 in a prepared statement. "The addition of Cisco to Avnet's line card will allow us to expand in the highly lucrative data center market, while directly addressing our customers' needs for efficient, low-maintenance and cost-effective environments. Based on our experience with Avnet's market development, training and sales services, we know we'll be able to hit the ground quickly with Cisco's product suite and provide all the elements our customers need for complete data center solutions."

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