Cisco’s face-off with HP ratcheted up a notch last week as both vendors closed multibillion-dollar acquisitions and pointed to upcoming channel opportunities.
Cisco’s $3.3bn (£2.1bn) buyout of videoconferencing specialist Tandberg was finally given the green light earlier this week. The initial $3bn agreement was thrashed out more than six months ago. HP’s $2.7bn acquisition of 3Com was closed earlier this month.
Last week HP revealed both 3Com and its own ProCurve brand are to be replaced by an all-encompassing HP Networking arm.
David Donatelli, HP’s general manager for Enterprise Storage, Servers and Networking, issued a war cry to Cisco, claiming his company would transform the networking industry by offering choice where there was none before.
“For years, the industry has had to live with one viewpoint on networking,” he said. “[This is] a rigid model that is high in cost and slow to innovate.”
The combined portfolio will be divided into four ranges: the A Series will contain high-end enterprise wares, while the E Series will address the mid-market and enterprise space with offerings designed for ease of use and affordability.
The V Series will target SMEs and mid-market companies with plug-and-play products intended to reduce the need for in-house IT staff. The S Series line will be built around 3Com’s TippingPoint network security offerings.
ProCurve chief Marius Haas takes up a position as general manager of HP N etworking. He indicated work was already underway to integrate 3Com VARs into the HP channel scheme.
Partners will benefit from “robust training and certification programmes, focused specialisations and extensive support for the most valued partners”, he said.
Cisco was equally bullish about the opportunities for the channel after closing the Tandberg deal. Marthin de Beer, senior vice president of Cisco’s Emerging Technologies Business Group, claimed videoconferencing was becoming an integral part of the “$34bn collaboration market”.
“Tandberg has 1,600 partners around the world,” he said. “Combined with Cisco Telepresence partners, this will give us the scale we need to make a big play.”
Tandberg chief executive Fredrik Halvorsen has been appointed leader of Cisco’s Telepresence Technology Group. He claimed that the combined channels would provide a mix of "AV integrators, systems integrators, [video] specialists and service providers all complementing each other".
Terry Dwyer, managing director of Tandberg Platinum partner mvision, said his firm has set aside more than £500,000 to obtain Cisco certifications. He claimed many videoconferencing specialists might look to sell up.
“This will bring more consolidation to the bottom end of the market,” he said.
Ton van Horssen, UK managing director of integrator Dimension Data, agreed that Tandberg partners would need to invest.
“It might create a few challenges,” he said. “Cisco is very channel centric with comprehensive and complex programmes and video firms might not be used to that level of partnership.”
He added that there would be "increased competition" as videoconferencing increasingly becomes a "commodity" sale.
"We will see more integrators from a networking background in this space, whereas before it was a niche market," he said.
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