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Comstor comes to Canada

Distributor to focus solely on Cisco products

Comstor, a division of Westcon Group, is making its way to the Canadian market place as part of a new global business focused solely on Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) solutions offerings.

Globally known as Comstor Worldwide, the distributor has consistently produced 50 per cent of Westcon’s revenue over the past few years. Comstor is a multi-regional brand that was established by the networking and mobility value added distributor over the last decade.

Westcon was the first distributor to sign a global distribution agreement with Cisco. Comstor Worldwide will be run by Bill Corbin and Jon Pritchard. It will have its own dedicated management and its own profit and loss centre.

In Canada, Comstor will operate as an internal division of Westcon Canada. Dan Forbes will be in charge. Forbes, who has experience in distribution and with Cisco, will report to Lynn Smurthwaite-Murphy, Westcon’s vice-president for Canada and North American director of SMB, and the two Comstor Worldwide executives.

Canada will be the first geography that Comstor Worldwide will expand to, followed by Brazil. Corbin said this means Canadian resellers will get a chance to engage with OneX series of channel programs including OneNetwork, OneVoice, OneDefense, OneWave and OneS. These programs provide information and tools to help Cisco channel partners be more competitive locally and internationally.

“This is the next step in our long evolution to becoming a global Cisco business. This next step is to pull together all the disparate parts around the world and make them one business so that they can leverage the Comstor brand and resources,” Corbin said.

Smurthwaite-Murphy said that the move to bring Comstor up to Canada will distinguish them in the market place.

“We’re fairly new with Cisco and shortly after we signed that global contract and launched Comstor worldwide we knew we could leverage the organization. We’ll get first-hand expertise and be able to bring back many Cisco solutions from around the world that make sense for Canadian customers and resellers,” she added.

For Cisco Systems Canada, Comstor will mean the networking giant has a distributor with a pure Cisco led practice in Canada, said Rick Graham, area vice-president, distribution and channel operations for Cisco Canada.

“Comstor has a strong brand in the U.S. and in Europe. They have the resources backed by programs that are built under their brand.

Now it is available in Canada for mutual partner benefit,” he said.

Graham added that a larger Cisco practice like Comstor will help solution providers with its speed to market.

He was also pleased that Corbin would be in charge. Graham said that Corbin has a relationship with Cisco Canada and knows the Canadian partner base and opportunities in this country very well.

Smurthwaite-Murphy cautioned that Comstor will not look like a whole new distribution business opening up in Canada similar to D&H. This is more of an investment in the Canadian market place, the ability to bring in the One X series of programs and to develop customizable solutions for partners around the Cisco platform.

Running Comstor Canada as an internal unit of Westcon Canada will lead to a more sustainable model for the distributor, Smurthwaite-Murphy said. There are many back office functions that Westcon and Comstor can share for example.

Corbin said that he has analysed the risk of operating a Cisco only distribution business and pointed out that Comstor is intent on developing solutions based on the Cisco platform for virtualization, storage, security, unified communications and data centre and not simply offering Cisco equipment.

“We can’t pick, pack and ship just Cisco. That game is over and it was brutal,” Corbin said.

Comstor will also focus on providing affinity or complimentary products for Cisco solutions such as power management equipment from APC or Emerson.

Ipcelerate, a Carrollton, Tex.-based vendor of VoIP applications is one example of an affinity vendor that will be part of Comstor’s line card.

Graham also believes Comstor will provide a benefit to established Cisco distribution partners such as Tech Data Canada and Ingram Micro Canada. He said that a large North American practice such as Comstor would be something the distributors could benefit from in terms of help out his its solution provider networks.