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Just over a year since it began distributing Cisco Systems products, small-business distributor D&H has managed to move 1,000 of its VARs to engage and sell the vendor’s wares.

The engagement is a sign that the Harrisburg, Pa., distributor and its VARs, as well as small and midsize business solution providers in general, are moving up the value chain, said Dan Schwab, D&H’s vice president of marketing.

“The SMB is right in middle of an evolution with end users [and SMB VARs],” Schwab said. “They’re looking for technologies that have existed in the enterprise for 10 years but were never priced right. Not priced right and the level of technology involved was far greater than their needs. Now every company, regardless of size, needs security, secure wireless, and businesses are moving end users from desktop-based environments to server-based environments, even in the SMB.”

D&H is accelerating the path of its own VARs up that value chain by partnering with vendors, such as Cisco, that provide the right type of product and elevate the level of technology available to the SMB, Schwab said.

The VARs already participating have embraced Cisco as a keystone vendor, he said.

“From an SMB stance, most resellers are generalists,” he said. “They focus on small medical or small legal. Or they focus on small environments in their locale. Cisco is becoming the backbone regardless of the application. They’re making Cisco the backbone on which they build applications off of. Every solution set we have, we’ve positioned Cisco as the backbone.”

D&H plans to bring another 1,000 VARs into the fold in the next 12 months, Schwab said.

For Cisco’s part, the arrangement provides a foot in the SMB door with a distributor that has an SMB specialization, said Julie Hens, the vendor’s senior director of distribution, U.S. channels.

Since D&H added Cisco to its portfolio in September 2005, the distributor has brought 1,000 of its resellers into the Cisco channel, involving them in training and sales engagements. D&H has also sent its sales and technical staff to training in Cisco technology to shepherd partners.