Cisco Systems has appointed Ingram Micro as its third distributor in a bid to improve its regional coverage and drive harder into the SMB market.
The move is a back-flip from a distribution rationalisation in mid-2003 that saw Tech Pacific dropped from Cisco's list, prior to the distributor being acquired by Ingram late last year.
Ingram joins LAN Systems and Express Data on Cisco's books.
Suzanne Hansen, regional manager for Australian and New Zealand channels at Cisco, said the company was anticipating five years of strong growth and one of the big growth areas was in the SMB market.
To reach these SMB customers and service markets outside capital cities, the company needed to appoint Ingram.
"Ingram Micro has a decentralised approach and strong presences in regional areas," Hansen said.
Ingram's solid relationship with Cisco in the US and other countries around the world had no bearing on the decision to appoint the distributor here, Hansen said.
Kerry Baillie, managing director at Ingram Micro, said the deal completed Ingram's networking portfolio. "We've had just about every other product," he said.
New Cisco management looked at the market differently and placed a greater emphasis on "breadth and SMBs", he said. "The previous management didn't see that area [SMB] as being important."
Baillie claimed Ingram's regional coverage was better than any other distributor. He said a third of its business came from regional resellers.
Ingram had done a good job with Linksys. It made sense to combine Linksys and Cisco products to target SMBs, Baillie added.
Tech Pacific was cut from Cisco's books in September 2003, following a 12-month review.
At the time, Cisco said it had chosen Express Data and LAN Systems as its only two distributors for their focus on advanced technologies, such as IP telephony, storage networking, wireless and security.
Ross Cochrane, managing director at Express Data, said the distributor was disappointed that Cisco had seen fit to add Ingram but he believed there was a good "marketplace for us" selling Cisco.
"The new Ingram is focusing on SMB and regional [markets], which is an area we cover with Express Online, not Express Data.
Express Data would modify its Cisco budget expectations this year, but in the short to medium term, Ingram's appointment would not significantly affect the distributor's business, Cochrane said.