Curvature: Call Us The Disrupter

With an expanded line card, a new commitment to the channel, and an alternative to Cisco SmartNet that's growing by leaps and bounds, Network Hardware Resale is singing a new tune.

The Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company, as of July, rebranded as Curvature, a new identity it says encompasses far more than its traditional business of selling pre-owned Cisco gear. It's a change, according to Curvature, that was long overdue.

"For five to 10 years, we have already been doing things that are not just reselling network hardware," said Kenneth Rotman, managing director, global strategic alliances and channel development at Curvature, in a recent interview with CRN.

[Related: New Lease On Life? Curvature Pits Its NetSure Tech Support Service Against Cisco's SmartNet]

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For starters, Rotman said, Curvature has been investing more in its services business and, specifically, in NetSure, its own version of Cisco's SmartNet service for maintenance and technical support. Curvature says it's found a sweet spot by selling NetSure to Cisco customers who want to extend the life of their Cisco gear -- and lock down a maintenance contract for that gear -- even after Cisco itself no longer supports it.

Curvature, which Rotman said has an annual revenue of roughly $300 million, has also significantly expanded its portfolio beyond pre-owned Cisco hardware. The company today boats partnerships with 10 OEMs, including Hewlett-Packard, Dell, IBM and Arista Networks. Curvature also offers new equipment in the server and storage markets, along with its own brand of optical transceivers.

Rotman said five years ago roughly 95 percent of Curvature's total revenue came from its Cisco business. Today, that number is 75 percent.

As part of its recent makeover, Curvature, for the first time, is looking to send more of its business through the channel. Rotman, whose responsibilities include kick-starting Curvature's global channel and strategic alliances programs, said he was brought into the company in November to do just that.

In particular, Curvature is looking to drive more sales of its NetSure service through partners. Rotman said NetSure represents an opportunity for Cisco solution providers to target customers who are using legacy Cisco hardware because a refresh just isn't in the budget, and need an alternative to SmartNet to ensure that hardware is supported.

Rotman said partners can also offer NetSure to customers who need extended support on equipment that they are in the process of replacing.

As the channel embraces NetSure, which saw adoption grow 192 percent between 2011 and the end of 2013, Rotman said he expects the service to be highly disruptive to Cisco and its SmartNet offering.

"To the extent that you think [NetSure] is already disruptive, imagine what will happen when all of our channel and giant strategic alliances start introducing our strategy," he said.

Master agent and connectivity services distributor WTG is one of the first partners to sign on with Curvature. WTG CEO Vince Bradley said WTG will open up the NetSure offering to its roughly 1,200 solution provider partners.

"By partnering with Curvature, we will be bringing our reps in with their reps and go to market together," Bradley said, adding that he already sees a "seven-figure funnel" for NetSure sales.

Bob Cox, president of Nothing But Net, a Phoenix-based solution provider, is also a new partner of Curvature. He said that, while not all Cisco customers will necessarily be open to a third-party maintenance service like NetSure, there are definitely some that will.

"I see it as a great opportunity for solution providers to be able to provide a great product by a leading manufacturer and to be able to make money at the end of the day," Cox said. "Some customers may not want it, but for some it's perfect. I definitely see a fit for it."

This article originally appeared as an exclusive on the CRN Tech News App for iOS and Windows 8.