Cisco drops Dell as reseller

Cisco Systems Inc. will drop Dell Computer Corp. as a reseller of its networking products effective Sept. 27, Dell representatives said Thursday.

Dell has been selling Cisco equipment through its direct online sales channel for several years. It currently offers all of Cisco's products for large enterprises and some of its products for small and medium-sized businesses. After Sept. 27, most Dell customers will not be able to purchase Cisco gear through the company. Exceptions will be made until Oct. 31 for some customers that are considered critical by either company, said Mary Fad, a spokeswoman for Dell, in Round Rock, Texas.

The move may reflect Cisco's new perception of Dell as a competitor. The San Jose, California, networking giant included Dell along with traditional rivals such as Nortel Networks Corp. and Juniper Networks Inc. on a list of competitors in a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission dated July 27. Dell sells a growing lineup of its own network switches under the PowerConnect line.

Dell referred questions about the reason for the change to Cisco. Lang Tibbils, a Cisco spokesman, confirmed that the company will end its reseller arrangement with Dell on Sept. 27, but declined to comment further.

Cisco informed Dell of the decision in writing on Aug. 15, Fad said. There appears to be no outside channel through which Dell will be able to supply Cisco equipment after Oct. 31 if users request it, she said. However, Dell already has preferred provider relationships with three other network equipment makers -- Nortel, Extreme Networks Inc. and Enterasys Networks Inc. -- and sells gear from other makers as well, so it won't be hampered by the loss of Cisco's gear, according to Fad.

"Between the Dell PowerConnect switches and the switches from our preferred providers, there should be no problem for our customers to get what they want," she said.

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