Cisco smartens up partner services

Cisco smartens up partner services

Smart Care Service for SMBs available in September

Cisco has launched a new co-branded services initiative to simplify basic network maintenance and help its partners expand into higher capabilities.

The Smart Care Service for SMB and mid-market customers builds on top of its existing Smartnet support offering. It includes 24x7 support, advanced product replacement, software updates and upgrades, remote networking monitoring capabilities, proactive notifications, and assessed and repair services.

The service is based on a software client or network appliance, which is deployed at customer sites to collect data. This is used to collate reports and monitor potential risks and issues.

Partners can mix the Smart Care package with their own range of services under a single contract. It will be available in September.

Cisco services vice-president of marketing and channels, Karl Meulema, said the new initiative would give partners the opportunity to utilise the Cisco name and expertise while also tailoring a services offering all of their own.

"Partners want the Cisco brand, value and IP attached to services, but also want to leverage local skills and knowledge," he said. "We have come up with this collaboration package to address that.

"SMBs and mid-market are looking for complete network coverage, but they don't have the skills or ability to do that. This new landscape requires a new services model. We need to have network-level services, penned by the partner, and ensure a model that is backed by Cisco that customers can see."

Partners can set their own pricing. Meulema said the vendor would provide products at a flat rate based on network complexity and number of Cisco devices.

"Partners set the price by adding their services and expertise as they are the ones who own the customer relationship," he said.

To qualify for Smart Care, partners need to be Select certified or higher. They also need an 8x5 support centre, and must complete training before sitting an exam.

Cisco Premier partner, Touchbase, participated in the pilot of Smart Care across its Australian operations. CEO, Riordan Maynard, said having base services pre-packaged helped to alleviate development costs. About 50 per cent of Touchbase's global revenues are derived from services.

"We don't have $US10 million to spend formulating these tools and methodologies," he said. "A vendor being interested in this ­- what we do with it and how we apply it - is so valuable. We will make great use of this."

Alongside Smart Care, vice-president of worldwide channels, Edison Peres, also announced changes to its Solutions Incentive Program, as well as a range of pre-packaged solutions.

"In the past, partners had to go to an ISV or develop solutions themselves. Then they had to sell a few and show their case for the incentive discounts," he said. "We are now going to give partners incentives for going hand-in-hand with an ISV to their customers. They also won't be carrying the cost of developing the solution because they are collaborating.

"We are going to work with ISVs and come up with blueprints for market opportunities and give that to partners."

The first 10 pre-packaged solutions will be rolled out in the next two months. Peres said it aimed to have 30 available within six months.

The focus on services and solutions was about getting partners to improve their services capabilities and think about solutions over pin point products, he said.

"We want to help our partners move up the value chain," he said. "All of the programs we have launched in the last few years are about getting partners to add more value."

Nadia Cameron travelled to Las Vegas as a guest of Cisco

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