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Distributor Tech Data Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc. are joining forces on a program designed to give resellers support on sales and training in how to target the small and midsized business market.

Through an SMB program dubbed Comet, Tech Data’s offers resellers free, fast-track training courses on Cisco’s CallManager Express and VPN/Firewall Express systems. It also provides training on how to sell managed services and hosted IP communications through third-party providers, as well as technical support and integration through AIS (Advanced Integration Services) for Cisco products.

Tech Data’s interest in the segment stems from what it sees as a steady growth in the number of SMBs that are adopting IP communications, wireless security and other advanced networking technology, according to a statement from the company.

Resellers enrolled in Comet can save thousands of dollars through training for certification in Cisco CallManager Express data, voice and video communications systems and VPN/Firewall Express wireless security products.

The training, which normally costs as much as $16,000 per student over 15 days, can be completed under the program in half that time, the distributor said.

The program also offers seminars to teach resellers how to sell hosted IP communications and managed security services. The seminars will offer resellers opportunities to partner with Cisco-certified third-party providers of these services, the distributor said.

Through Comet, resellers also gain access to Tech Data’s AIS, through which the distributor configures Cisco products such as routers, switches and CallManager IP telephony servers.

AIS replaces manual configurations with intelligent agent technology in Cisco IOS and Cisco CNS Management products to provide centralized, template-based configuration, security features and other customer requirements, the distributor said.

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John DiLullo, vice president of worldwide distribution at Cisco, said the Tech Data SMB program gives Cisco VARs a “tremendous growth opportunity.”

Through Comet, Tech Data also will manage contract renewals for resellers with SMARTnet maintenance agreements, assist in preparing quotes to renew business, and identify Cisco product sold without SMARTnet support that may require service or upgrades.