Changing the Channel: Networking VAR news

Sep 25 2009   5:48PM GMT

Westcon consolidates Cisco under Comstor brand to clear up confusion

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

Westcon Group, one of the leading distributors of hardware and software in the networking channel, has reorganized in an effort to make it easier for networking channel partners to buy and sell Cisco products globally. Westcon consolidated all of its Cisco distribution operations under the brand Comstor Worldwide this week.

Previously, channel partners would buy their Cisco gear from either a Westcon-branded business or a Comstor-branded business, depending on what part of the world the partner was doing business in. The Comstor brand was a legacy of Comstor.net, the Cisco distributor that Westcon bought in 1999. At the time of the acquisition, Westcon was a distributor of Nortel, Lucent and 3Com products. The Comstor acquisition gave Westcon a thriving Cisco distribution business. Over the years, Westcon has continued the Comstor brand, but it sold Cisco gear under its Westcon and Comstor brands, depending on geography.

This inconsistent brand approach has always caused confusion for networking channel partners who do international business.

“We may have been somewhat confusing over the past couple years over our go-to-market strategy around Cisco,” Westcon Executive Vice President of Global Strategic Initiatives William Corbin told me. “We’ve operated under Comstor and under Westcon. What we’re doing is making a clear delineation that Comstor Worldwide is the organization that houses all our Cisco solutions. That gives [partners] a consistent message.”

This move should be particularly helpful to VARs who do business with companies with international operations. In the past, partners who engaged a U.S. business with offices in Europe or Asia and would face a certain amount of complexity when trying to deliver Cisco products to those overseas offices.  It could engage either a Westcon company or a Comstor company, depending on which country the customer’s offices were in. Now partners will be dealing with one global distributor, Comstor Worldwide.

Not only does this give channel partners better visibility into Comstor’s overseas inventories. It also simplifies the partner’s efforts at complying with international regulatory and tax requirements

Corbin said his company will cease distributing Cisco products under the Westcon brand. That brand will continue operating as Westcon Security, Westcon Collaboration and Westcon Convergence. It will sell only non-Cisco products.

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