Tech Data opens centre to showcase Cisco gear to SMBs

Mississauga, Ont. — Tech Data Canada is building again, this time a $500,000 Cisco Advanced Technology Centre inside its headquarters here.

The centre will have five advanced technology stations for SMB solutions. The stations consist of RFID, Call Manager Express, Unified Communications, wireless and security.

According to Rick Reid, the president of Tech Data, this first-of-its-kind facility was the brainchild of two Tech Data executives Ray Gonsalves and Greg Myers.

“They approached Cisco more than a year ago with this opportunity to build a facility that would showcase Cisco Advanced Technology along with other products. Then Cisco expanded on the idea dramatically,” Reid said.

Ross Pellizzari, Cisco‘s channel manager, said this facility is welcome news from an SMB commercial market standpoint for the networking giant. He believes this type of facility will help Cisco attain the breadth of partners needed in the SMB market in Canada.

“This kind of facility will help resellers with their proof of concept projects in vertical markets such as healthcare, retail, and manufacturing. There is no vertical you cannot do at this facility,” Pellizzari said.

Currently 50 per cent of Cisco’s business goes through distribution. Cisco has grown its business in the commercial space, Pellizzari said.

Cisco Canada already has a facility in downtown Toronto but that one is more suited for public sector and enterprise customers.

The Tech Data facility will be a demonstration type facility and it will be open not just to resellers, but customers as well.

“Customers spend the money,” Reid said.

Pellizzari added that resellers can learn from enterprise customers and this centre can show them that.

“This facility will have new technology, not last year’s technology,” Reid said.

Tech Data is also about to release Knowledge Plus training program, which aims to help resellers attain the necessary certifications for Advanced Technology. Only resellers with the proper certifications can use the Cisco Advanced Technology Centre.

Reid cautions that this facility is not a training ground for resellers, which is why they developed Knowledge Plus.

He does, however, believe that a facility such as the Cisco Advanced Technology Centre will speed up the sales cycle for resellers.

Gary Collins, vice-president of sales and marketing for London, Ont.-based solution provider SaltSpring Software Inc., agreed with Reid on the facility reducing the sales cycle.

SaltSpring currently has two customers it wants to bring to the centre.

Collins added that it helps mid-size solution providers such as SaltSpring because they can bring a customer to this facility and show them that Tech Data staff and Cisco staff are part of its team.

“And, we are still the main contact for the customers. Other vendors would just tell us to send the customer over without us. We could potentially lose connection with the customer under that scenario,” Collins said.

With the launch of the centre, Tech Data and Cisco are offering a promotion where the first 10 resellers to book an appointment and bring in a customer will receive $200 credit on account. Collins quipped that he will be getting some extra money with that promo.

The centre has more than $250,000 worth of Cisco equipment. Other partners include NEC, HP, IBM and Intermec.

Even though this facility is available to any reseller in Canada, Reid believes it will be a predominantly metro Toronto facility. But, he added that the sky’s the limit with building future facilities of this kind in Tech Data’s new distribution centre in Vancouver and possibility even in Calgary.

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