Cisco to let partner software, services bloom

Cisco to let partner software, services bloom

Cisco wants to share the lessons of its services business with channel partners, an executive said Tuesday.

Cisco Systems wants its channel partners to run off with everything it learns about providing professional services.

"We don't want to be the holder of services intellectual capital," Cisco's senior vice-president of US and Canada operations, Robert Lloyd, said at the Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego.

The dominant networking vendor's services business was there primarily to learn how to provide services such as system planning, design, implementation, operation and optimisation around Cisco technologies, then package those lessons and pass them on for channel partners to use, Lloyd said.

As part of that strategy, Cisco announced that it will incorporate lifecycle services content, covering those types of design and implementation functions, into the training programs for all its channel certifications.

Services bring in about 18 per cent of Cisco's annual revenue, but that percentage hadn't changed significantly over the past few years and was unlikely to grow much in the future, Lloyd said.

The company did provide professional services directly to some very large telecommunications carriers and enterprises, but in most cases it left those functions to system integrators and other channel partners, he said.

One thing Cisco would do with its own services business wais work out ways to do system design and other functions for its latest advanced services to learn lessons that could be passed on.

Cisco's overall strategy, emphasised over the past year or more, is to build more intelligence into networks, integrating technologies such as Internet Protocol telephony, video and security into networks and even adding features that ensure all applications perform as needed.

Partners, ultimately, would play a key role in creating these more intelligent networks, the company said.

Not pushing hard with its own services business was a good move for Cisco because it avoided the company competing with its partners for a lucrative piece of their business, IDC channels analyst, Ken Presti, said.

Going up against them on this would cause some to turn away from Cisco, he said.

Users benefited from the strategy because it helped create a healthy market for providers of these services and gave customers more choices, he said. Lloyd also said Cisco wantedto unleash third-party development of new applications for networks by taking a hands-off approach.

"We are not going to build the be-all and end-all application certification model where we certify every application...That tends to lead to a restriction in the innovation that we now see available," he said.

Cisco itself would develop general enabling applications, such as messaging and the MeetingPlace collaboration software but left the invention of more specific capabilities to others, Lloyd said.

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