Cisco has opened up build-to-order and configure-to-order options for its Unified Computing System (UCS) C-series rackmount servers to two of its Canadian distributors, Ingram Micro and Tech Data, a move that the distributors say could drop the leadtime for a UCS order from months to days.
The distributors say that traditionally, a UCS C-series order from a Canadian VAR could face between three and six weeks to complete, as the servers were built-to-order from the company’s factories. But representatives of both Ingram and Tech say that using their own in-house configuration facilities, VARs can expect custom-configured UCS solutions in three to four days.
“The ability to turn things around in two or three days complete changes Cisco’s potential with midmarket customers in Canada,” said Greg Myers, vice president of marketing at Tech Data Canada.
Tim Billing, vice president of vendor management for Ingram Micro Canada, said the distributor has seen strong growth for UCS in the Canadian market, and is expecting to see that growth accelerate once it starts doing final configurations itself.
“This puts Cisco in timeline parity with other server vendors, and puts Cisco in a very strong competitive position in the market,” Billing said.
It also puts Cisco’s server offerings in line with the process used by most other server vendors in the market – Myers said upwards of 80 per cent of servers sold by Tech Data see some sort of configuration services, be it hardware or software, with the distributor. “CTO has clearly been the model of choice” for servers, Myers said, allowing customers “with the support of their resellers to get what they need, and get the most seamless integration of new server technologies.”
Both distributors agree that the biggest opportunity will be with midmarket customers who may have previously passed on the Cisco server technology because of long leadtimes. Myers said it’s an opportunity he’s long taken up with Cisco Canada, and an opportunity the distributor is excited to tackle. Billing said Ingram, after getting the initial word out, will focus on “identifying where there could be some gaps for a recruitment standpoint” within the channel.
Still, that growth is likely to be tempered by Cisco’s own authorizations necessary for access to UCS. The company has thus far focused on working with a relatively small base of partners, although Myers hinted that could change as the company continues to focus on the commercial space in Canada, a market served by a wide variety of channel partners.
“This will probably lead to more partners offering Cisco server solutions to the midmarket, but Cisco has taken a pretty methodical approach to authorizing partners, and they’ll manage that growth to make sure the investments are made up front to ensure good business in the long term in the market.”
With UCS becoming more competitive with alternate solution, Billing said he can foresee new types of partners – particularly Cisco-authorized unified communications and networking partners – moving into the UCS market.
“I see a lot of traditional resellers that may not have sold C-series product before looking to become authorized and leverage a lot of the enablement services we have at Ingram,” he said.
In both cases, configuration work will be done at the distributors’ respective Canadian headquarters in Mississauga, Ont. And both distributors say they’re committed to stocking both Cisco and third-party components to UCS solutions to make sure solution providers are able to deliver just about any possible C-series configuration to meet their customers’ needs.