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In talking to Cisco partners about the networking giant’s plan to acquire video conferencing big-leaguer Tandberg, one thing becomes very clear.

Most of these guys already sell Tandberg – a lot.

It makes perfect sense that they do. Cisco’s Telepresence video conferencing solution, which I’ve used and will vouch is incredibly cool technology, is nonetheless the domain of only the largest corporations. We’re talking Fortune 500-level customers, who can foot the six-figure tab.

Then there’s Cisco’s other video collaboration offering, WebEx. WebEx is ubiquitous on the desktop, familiar to almost anyone in corporate life who participates in online meetings. But it is not bonafide video conferencing.

The chasm between WebEx and Telepresence leaves a lot of middle ground uncovered in Cisco’s portfolio. That’s where Tandberg has fit in, arming Cisco partners with a set of solid video conferencing products that can be sold into mid-sized customers.

The gap in offerings has bugged Cisco partners for some time now. Ask Kent MacDonald. McDonald is vice president of network services at Long View Systems, a solution provider and Cisco partner in Calgary, Alberta. He gave the Tandberg deal a huge thumbs’ up after admittedly raising the lack of a midrange video conferencing solution to Cisco on a number of occasions.

“I’ve been advocating for this on the partner advisory council for some time now,” McDonald told me. “We needed an end-to-end solution.”

So what will be different for partners that already sell Tandberg products? Integration is the big thing. Tandberg’s midrange solutions will no longer be standalone offerings, instead becoming part of Cisco’s overall unified communications fabric. Partners have said that video conferencing, to date, has operated like a satellite technology orbiting around the main collaboration and communications platform, but never seamlessly linked. Now it will be.

There is some overlap between Cisco and Tandberg products. Tandberg has its own version of a Telepresence-type system that is likely to get axed as part of the acquisition. But the meat of its portfolio, the midrange solutions that most businesses can afford, will remain. And that makes partners very happy.

Do you sell Tandberg product alongside Cisco already?

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