Cisco Partners: Specifics Still Lacking In Tandberg Integration Plans

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Cisco has made strides in integrating both the technology and channel programs of Tandberg into its own, say solution providers. But the networking behemoth has a long way to go toward finishing the job -- and some of the biggest challenges for legacy Tandberg partners may be still to come.

Cisco completed its $3.3 billion acquisition of Tandberg in April, and in doing so vaulted to the top market share in videoconferencing systems, ahead of rivals like Polycom and LifeSize. But at the time of the acquisition, VARs had plenty of questions about how the Tandberg channel community would map into Cisco's own, and several expressed frustration throughout 2010 that that process wasn't proceeding more rapidly.

Cisco on Monday offered new details however, including new products and services and a look at its new TelePresence Video Authorized Technology Provider (ATP) program. The Cisco and Tandberg partner programs that have run in parallel since April will integrate as of January 31, 2011, with Tandberg partners mapping into appropriate Cisco designations.

It's an important step, VARs told CRN this week, even if the process remains incomplete.

"In fairness, I will say they've done a very good and proactive job at reaching out and educating at an executive level about many of the upcoming changes," said Todd Luttinger, president and CEO of Providea Conferencing, a Camarillo, Calif.-based solution provider. "We feel positive about it, and I do think it's going to benefit us compared to the former Tandberg programs."

Cisco's channel program -- and the way it structures both its certifications and specializations -- is one of the more rigorous in the industry, which will be a welcome change to many Tandberg partners, Luttinger said. Luttinger, like many solution providers who had been Tandberg partners before the acquisition, alluded to ongoing challenges with Tandberg's enVision channel program, which many VARs described as having requirements that, in its later days, went unenforced and created difficulty for partners.

"Whether best laid plans or best intentions, the enVision program just got kind of steamrolled over time," Luttinger said. "In the big picture, we'll end up better off."

"Tandberg had a good model, but they just didn't enforce it," said Rus Healy, chief technology officer for Annese & Associates, a Herkimer, N.Y.-based solution provider. "If you got people certified and they left the company, for example, most people just didn't pay any attention to that and no one cared what certifications you had. Cisco is not like that. Cisco is unquestionably dedicated to specialization, and they've really pushed that end of it."


Next: What Partners Are Hoping To Hear

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