Cisco Forms Storage VAR Council, But Has No Storage VARs

What is unusual is that Cisco does not work with storage solution providers.

Instead, solution providers who use Cisco's MDS 9000 series storage switches get them from what the vendor calls OSMs, or OEM storage manufacturers, who then resell the switches through its channels. These OSMs currently include IBM, Hewlett-Packard, EMC and Hitachi Data Systems.

Cisco invited 14 storage solution providers to its partner summit, being held this week in Honolulu. Among those attending were Avnet Enterprise Solutions, Tempe, Ariz.; Nth Generation Computing, San Diego; and Sirius Computer Solutions, San Antonio, Texas.

Keith Zubchevich, director of storage and optical worldwide channels for Cisco, said that solution providers are critical to the OSMs' storage sales, and so it makes sense for the vendor to reach out to them in the same fashion it reached out to end users when the MDS 9000 switches were first developed.

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"We want to reach out to VARs to better understand the needs of their community," Zubchevich said. "This is part of our effort to reach out and help OSMs to foster a storage networking competency with their VAR channel."

Rich Baldwin, president and CEO of Nth Generation, one of HP's largest storage solution providers, said the new VAR council shows Cisco is really focusing on growing its storage business, as the company brought some of its key hardware, software and channel people to the meeting to listen to the channel's concerns.

"They are trying to address our issues to gain ground," Baldwin said. "They want to see what they need to do to drive more business through the channel."