Tech Data Opens Distribution Of Cisco Service Provider Portfolio

Tech Data on Thursday confirmed it will begin distributing Cisco's Service Provider Technology Group portfolio, which includes the collection of products Cisco obtained when it acquired Scientific Atlanta in 2006.

The distributor plans to offer the entire SPVTG line, from set-top boxes to digital media encoders, marking the first time many existing Scientific Atlanta partners are able to access those products through two-tier distribution.

Cisco first announced the Scientific Atlanta acquisition in November 2005, and at $6.9 billion, it remains Cisco's largest-ever acquisition by transaction amount. Given Scientific Atlanta's strong focus on set-top boxes and certain video services, the acquisition was seen as helping Cisco expand its horizons toward consumer and home networking markets.

Thanks to increased emphasis on video, however -- the blurring of lines between consumer and business, as Cisco CEO John Chambers put it last year -- the appeal of those Scientific Atlanta products is broader, said Chuck Bartlett, vice president of Tech Data's Cisco Solutions Group.

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Tech Data is targeting the SPVTG portfolio toward a wide mix of channel partners, from video equipment resellers to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and select cable operators.

"There's a big opportunity here for Cisco's existing partner base," Bartlett explained. "Suddenly, folks are getting a lot more creative in how they use this technology as a lot of video migrates from cable to IP-based systems. There are a lot of partners focused in certain verticals, such as health care, where this is becoming important."

According to Tech Data, SPVTG includes the following products:

-- Cisco Access/Edge: RF switches, broadband routers, optical hubs, nodes, reverse transmitters, amplifiers, filters, equalizers and line extenders;

-- Cisco Headend, Content Contribution and Distribution: Addressable network management systems, digital decoders, digital receivers/decoders, headends, analog modulators and demodulators;

-- Cisco At Home: Analog set-tops units, digital set-top units, cable accessories, cable modems, headend digital, headend software and the PowerVu Network Center Management Platform;

-- Cisco Network Monitoring and Management: Cisco Broadband Access Center, Cisco Broadband Configurator, Cisco Network Registrar, transponders, backup and disaster recovery;

-- Cisco Digital Media Suite: Digital media encoders, managers and players.

Next: The Impact Of Video

"Video is changing the way networks have to be constructed," Bartlett said. "We've really just hit the tip of the iceberg. Economic conditions have played well on the technology for about three years now, and more and more people have the bandwidth to do IP-based videoconferencing. Then beyond that, we don't talk as much about video security and surveillance, but there's a lot of video opportunity there, too."

Most Scientific Atlanta partners had before acquired products direct from the manufacturer, and Bartlett said Tech Data had been working with Cisco to reach out to those partners and get them comfortable with distribution.

Much of the past year has been spent working out SKUs and special training, Bartlett said.

"Frankly, it was like bringing on a new vendor," he said.

The greater availability of Cisco's SPVTG products in the channel comes at the same time the networking titan is pushing video products, video infrastructure and video enablement services like never before.

Chambers and top Cisco executives have made frequent reference to video as a crucial market opportunity, and the company in 2009 made two key video market acquisitions: Pure Digital, the maker of the Flip video camera, and Tandberg, whose wide range of video and presence hardware and software products gave it the leading market share among standalone videoconferencing vendors before Cisco announced plans to acquire it.

The Tandberg acquisition's close is pending, but Cisco has offered a few hints about how it will integrate Tandberg's channels into its own.

Speculation among existing Tandberg channel partners and distributors continues in the mean time.

"We've been in conversation with them, but they haven't given us any timeline on that," Bartlett said of Cisco's Tandberg plans. "If they tell you, let me know."