Changing the Channel: Networking VAR news

Dec 2 2009   8:22PM GMT

Cisco vs. HP ProCurve: Are partners asked to choose sides?

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

Cisco and HP have been in a hot war for more than a year now, with Cisco launching its Unified Computing System as a competitor to HP’s server business and HP building up its ProCurve brand as the top networking rival to Cisco.  This new rivalry has had plenty of implications for channel partners, many of whom do business with both companies. For instance, Cisco started pushing partners to match HP ProCurve’s lower prices in key deals. And HP picked up networking refugee 3Com specifically to beef up ProCurve, a move that is sure to have plenty of fallout for VARs as ProCurve integrates 3Com’s products into its portfolio.

There is a new meme emerging from this newly charged rivalry: VARs will find themselves caught in the crossfire. Unnamed VARs are telling the media that they are being asked to choose one side or the other, something that wouldn’t sit well with channel partners who want customers to think of them as trusted advisers, not vendor flunkies.  As one anonymous partner told CRN recently: “We should not be lined up by vendors, but by the unique needs of our customers. That is who we serve. We have to embrace the notion that our bread is provided by our customers.”

Can HP or Cisco really pressure partners to fall in line with one of them or the other? What would that pressure look like? And how would you respond? We’d like to know.

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