With networking vendor Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) broadening its solution portfolio and architecture, distributor Ingram Micro (NYSE: IM) is looking to help its channel partners capitalize on the opportunity with a new facility showcasing the latest in Cisco technology and solutions.
Ingram is investing over US$2 million in Cisco equipment alone to equip its new Cisco experience centre, which will officially open Tuesday as part of the distributor’s Solution Centre in Buffalo, N.Y., just over the Canadian border.
Holly Garcia, senior director, vendor management for Ingram Micro, said the new 1,000 sq. ft. technology showcase and demonstration facility will showcase the latest in Cisco technology, including Cisco TelePresence and the complete portfolio of Cisco Data Centre, Borderless Network and Collaboration solutions. There will also be interactive demonstrations of Cisco’s mobile user, home user and remote user solutions.
The experience centre, said Garcia, is uniquely Cisco.
“It’s available to any Cisco-authorized VAR, and we’re definitely servicing and supporting Canadian VARs as well as U.S. VARs,” said Garcia. “We believe we’re bringing a North American footprint to this centre with some of the offerings. It’s specifically designed to help VARs grow thriving Cisco practices.”
Partners can bring their customers to the experience centre in Buffalo to demonstrate Cisco-based solutions in action, and get more information from Cisco certified engineers. There’s a video wall with seven video touch screens highlighting vertical market plays around Cisco solutions such as public sector, manufacturing, education, retail, health care and finance. Demo pods showcase how Cisco business tools enable anywhere, anytime access. Cisco’s unified computing solution is showcased, and a TelePresence suite is also available.
“The solution centre is more than technical and sales support,” said Garcia. “We really wanted this centre to help business owners when meeting with clients by having something hands-on and visual in which they could explain Cisco architecture and solutions in a way that creates a competitive advantage for them.”
For those partners that can’t get to Buffalo in person, virtual support and online access to some of the solutions is also available.
“We have the experience centre portal, which houses training videos, an architecture boot camp, a virtual engineering lab with real-world demos and on online version of the video wall, so partners can be a part of it online,” said Garcia.
Ingram feels the Cisco experience centre creates a competitive differentiator for its VARs, and enhances the value proposition of what Ingram brings to partners, said Garcia. She added the Cisco relationship is an important one for Ingram, going back some 16 years.
The experience centre had its genesis, said Garcia, at Cisco’s 2009 partner summit when the vendor announced an architecture play and methodology around solution-based selling.
“It’s a broad message, and to effectively sell that play we got thinking about how we can help our VARs get their arms around the architecture play and the next evolution of what Cisco is bringing to market,” said Garcia. “The feedback we got from partners is that pre-sales and technical support is important, and we came up with the idea for the experience centre.”
Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN.