Avnet launches new resources for Cisco data centre partners

Distributor Avnet Technology Solutions (NYSE: AVT) has launched new resources to help its Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) partners in Canada focused on the data centre to shorten their sales cycles. The new Data Centre Lab and Customer Test Drive programs were made available to partners Monday.

“The Cisco relationship is one of the newer enterprise relationships we have inside the Avnet portfolio,” said Brian Aebig, vice-president and general manager of Avnet Technology Solutions in Canada. “They’ve decided where they want to place their bets, and their bets are going to be at the data centre level.”

The lab is a demo centre located at Avnet’s Mississauga, Ont. office, where partners can bring customers to see Cisco data centre products, including its Unified Computing System B-Series and C-Series server products, Nexus products and ACE and WAAS WAN acceleration products, and demo them in a variety of data centre environments.

Partners can also bring their own staff in for training purposes. Aebig estimates the lab will be used half the time for customer demos and half for partners to train staff.

“We can set this up in as big a facility as we want,” Aebig said, meaning partners can use Web conferencing services to show the demonstrations from the lab in addition to bringing people in physically.

The Customer Test Drive program allows customers to test Cisco UCS technology in their own data centres before finalizing their decision. Along with shortening the sales cycle for partners, the program also means partners don’t have to invest in their own demo equipment, Aebig said.  

Related story: Avnet launches data centre training for partners

Partners can book time for lab use or the test drive program through an automated Web site. There’s no cost involved for partners to participate in either program.

“We’re able to handle the cradle to grave aspects of either the demo lab activities or the test drive program,” Aebig said.

“I sense a lot of pent up demand,” for these resources, Aebig said, adding he expects a short-term rush of partners wanting to use the lab and test drive program right away.

“We asked them quite aggressively for the program to be created,” said Nicholas Laine, manager of enterprise architecture for ESI Information Technologies, an Avnet partner with offices in Quebec and Ontario.

“I like them (the new programs) because realistically the challenge we’ve had as partners is it’s sometimes difficult to get a proof of concept in to the client.”

The two new programs are a joint investment between Avnet and Cisco. The data centre became a much stronger priority for Cisco globally in 2011, when the company realigned its business into five key focus areas. Avnet has also been focusing on the data centre with its SolutionsPath program and Data Centre University program for partners.

“This is a uniquely Canadian relationship with regards to the lab that we have in place today,” Aebig said. Avnet does have a similar demo lab in its Phoenix, Ariz. headquarters, but not one that is used exclusively for Cisco resellers. The test drive aspect is uniquely Canadian.

Both Laine and Aebig agree that Canadians are innovative people, but usually want to touch and feel things before investing in them.

Laine estimated the two programs could shorten his sales cycle by about third. “I think it depends on the client and the maturity of the client,” he said.

At ESI, Laine and his team prefer to be with clients when demonstrating the technology, but some companies with more experienced internal IT teams may be able to use the test drive program immediately.

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Harmeet Singh
Harmeet Singh
Harmeet reports on channel partner programs, new technologies and products and other issues relevant to Canada's channel community. She also contributes as a video journalist, providing content for the site's original streaming video. Harmeet is a graduate of the Carleton University School of Journalism.

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