Execs: Cisco-Tandberg Combined Partner Program 9 Months Away

Cisco's just-completed acquisition of Tandberg means that Cisco must now integrate Tandberg's existing channel program into its own. For the time being, Cisco said Wednesday, the two channel programs will run in parallel, with the expectation that a new program for video conferencing products will be finished within nine months.

That was the word at Cisco Partner Summit from Richard McLeod, director, collaboration go-to-market at Cisco, and Fredrik Halvorsen, former Tandberg CEO and now senior vice president of Cisco's TelePresence Technology Group.

According to the executives, the combined program will take "best of breed" elements from both Cisco's and Tandberg's existing partner programs for video products with an eye toward maintaining the margins Cisco and Tandberg partners currently see.

All of Tandberg's products have been preserved and now fall within the TelePresence Technology Group, as Cisco previously detailed.

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"It's a fantastic marriage," McLeod said, emphasizing that Cisco would approach A/V integrators, service providers, video conferencing VARs and systems integrators as it looked to expand Cisco's video channel.

Eventually, McLeod said, Cisco will debut a partner specialization specifically for video, adding to the specializations it already offers in unified communications, security, wireless LAN, routing and switching, data center networking infrastructure and data center storage networking.

Several solution providers attending the Cisco Partner Summit weighed in on the benefits of a Cisco-Tandberg marriage.

Next: Partners Say Cisco Will Be A 'Muscle Player' In Video Market

They said the strength Cisco adds to the video market outshines fears of channel margin pressure. Cisco's presence in the video conferencing market at more levels -- Tandberg fills in gaps for Cisco beyond Cisco's own Digital Media Suite, video surveillance and TelePresence offerings -- will catalyze channel profits in the space.

"It really just brings credibility to the space," said Michael Brandofino, executive vice president of video communications and unified collaboration at AVI-SPL, Tampa, Fla. "It's good to have a muscle player around to show how it can be done."

"As a provider we can now address end-to-end user requirements," added Michael Heiman, vice president of engineering for Nexus IS, Valencia, Calif. "It also gives us room to build on that foundation."

No longer is video an endpoint resale game, although gear is still important, the partners said. The biggest opportunity for the channel is in video services, and also, for solution providers that don't sell video gear itself, the ability to optimize network and data center infrastructure to meet the demands of video. "In some ways, you had traditional concierge services. We see that market going away though and giving way to professional services and ongoing managed services to make sure it works the way it needs to," offered Rob Lopez, managing director, solutions at Dimension Data, New York, N.Y.

Managed video services and the cloud's role in offering video services will continue to be crucial, partners agreed.

"Cloud-based infrastructure is what will allow smaller businesses to get into the video conferencing community," Brandofino said. "A consistent roadmap and a major company backing [video] is going let us all have a lot more conversations."