Cisco's Partner, Distribution Strategy For Tandberg Solidifies

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IVCi was one of the first Cisco and Tandberg solution providers invited to the ATP program, Swing said. Given the breadth and depth of its video experience, the company received a Master designation.

One of the most important steps Cisco's taken, Swing said, is to keep the broader Tandberg portfolio exclusive.

"You cannot get into the ATP unless you have been extended the invitation," he said. "I think they put a lot of thought into it and they did truly listen to the channels. They know they have to keep us profitable."

Swing said that in the earliest conversations he had with Cisco executives following the acquisition, they listened closely to partner concerns about overcrowding the Tandberg channel.

"When a program is diluted down, you have problems," Swing said. "You get a lot of people who just throw the systems in there, there are IP issues, degradation, all kinds of things, and integrity issues. Cisco maintains that you have to get certified around that knowledge."

Some partners are still in wait-and-see mode with regard to Cisco's Tandberg integration.

Mark Winner, vice president of sales at SMS proTec, a Sidney, Ohio-based solution provider, said that if Cisco limits the interoperability of Tandberg products with other video endpoints and infrastructure, the appeal of those products will flounder.

"I understand what they're doing with regard to its use with their own product lines," Winner said. "But where my curiosity is is what are they going to do with other open systems? A lot of companies have different brands of video conferencing and require open systems to make things work. If I say, 'This can only talk to another Cisco-enabled unit,' well, that's not going to fly."

Cisco partners are busy carving their own paths to address the growing demand for video solutions. SMS proTec has, along with its Cisco practice, also focused on video products from upstart competitors like LifeSize Communications.

Swing and IVCi, on the other hand, are sticking with their stalwart brands, Cisco and Polycom, for video needs.

"I think today we have the major brands you need to be successful," Swing said. I haven't seen LifeSize in the market all that much since they got bought by Logitech, but we are always exploring just to see how they compare and how they integrate," he said.

Elsewhere, bigger Cisco solution providers have gone the acquisition route to up their video capabilities. National VAR ePlus, for example, acquired a Tandberg platinum partner, Interchange Technologies, in line with the formation of its Advanced Audio and Video Solutions practice.


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