ScanSource Repositions Cisco Business, Throws More Weight Behind Collaboration


Distributor ScanSource is reshuffling its Cisco practice to include, for the first time, Cisco's voice, video and collaboration solutions.

Specifically, ScanSource said it is moving its complete Cisco practice -- which, until today, included only Cisco security and networking gear -- from its Security unit to its Catalyst Telecom unit, which focuses on unified communications and collaboration.

This shift of Cisco resources from ScanSource's Security unit to its Catalyst Telecom unit, including ScanSource's internal Cisco specialists, is meant to accommodate the addition of Cisco's voice, video and collaboration products to the Catalyst portfolio.

[Related: Catalyst Telecom Pens OEM Deal With EMC For EMC-Avaya IP Office Bundles]

Mike Ferney, vice president of merchandising at ScanSource Catalyst, said Cisco collaboration products including WebEx and the midmarket-focused Business Edition 6000 will be available to Catalyst resellers starting immediately.

Ferney also noted that this is the first time in ScanSource's six-year partnership with Cisco that the distributor will offer Cisco's collaboration tools. Ferney said the decision to incorporate Cisco collaboration products into the Catalyst unit -- which already offers collaboration solutions from vendors including Avaya, Polycom and Motorola -- stemmed from Cisco's collaboration suite being more robust, and more integrated, than ever.

"The timing right now is right for a couple for reasons. First, from a product perspective, [Cisco's] voice and video portfolios have been distinct and have not really integrated up until now," Ferney said. "But Business Edition 6000 really represents the first truly converged product, with voice and video on a single platform, and, for us, that's a great new offering."

In addition, Ferney said Cisco's introduction of its new Express Collaboration Specialization was a driver behind the new Cisco and Catalyst partnership. Rolled out in February, Cisco's Express Collaboration Specialization is essentially a fast-track program for partners to earn Premier-level collaboration certification.

"Between the [Cisco] programs and the products coming together at this point around collaboration, it's kind of a unique time," Ferney said. "And it seemed like a good time for us to step in and offer our value-added services."

Ferney said Catalyst Telecom will offer solution providers a number of value-added resources and services related to Cisco's collaboration suite. Solution providers, for example, will have access to Catalyst Telecom's FastQuote tool for facilitating and speeding up the quoting process.

Solution providers accessing Cisco collaboration tools through Catalyst Telecom will also be able to leverage Catalyst's network assessment services for testing how IP voice and video solutions will run on a customer's network, along with ScanSource's internal team of Cisco specialists and design engineers.

Cisco, for its part, said on-boarding Catalyst Telecom as one of its collaboration distributors will help accelerate its push into the midmarket, a space Cisco has been targeting more aggressively with new SMB-focused products like Business Edition 6000.

"This is part of Cisco's increasing expansion into the midmarket space. We are investing heavily there," said Richard McLeod, senior director of Cisco's Worldwide Collaboration Channel Sales. "The market seems to be embracing our portfolio and we are excited to have ScanSource and their partner network help us continue that growth."

Brian Holsonbake, president of Skyline Technology Solutions, a Glen Burnie, Md.-based solution provider, said he's excited to see Catalyst Telecom offering Cisco's collaboration tools, as it means Skyline can now get its full suite of Cisco solutions from a single distributor.

"It streamlines our process, and it's one less place to have to go to get Cisco products," Holsonbake said. "We sell a lot of data already that we procure through Catalyst, so instead of having to go to other distributors [for collaboration], we can just do it all through Catalyst."

PUBLISH MAY 30, 2013