The message to Cisco’s partners was simple: In it to win it.
The huge – 22,000 partner attendees – Cisco Global Partner Summit 2012 was held recently in San Diego, California. By the end, it had fed the business dreams of everyone.
In particular, it rolled out new initiatives specific to the channel and made a few tantalising announcements to the industry.
“We are more aggressive as a company than we have ever been. We are not here to participate or compete; we are here to win new markets, market transitions, new customers and deals, as well as beat the competition no matter who they are,” Cisco partner summit president, Keith Goodwin, said.
New global channel program
Cisco delivered a new global partner program, Partner Plus, that aims to accelerate the growth of its partners with mid-sized customers. The program launch follows the success of its $US75 million partner-led global strategy, in rewarding channel partners that lead the sale with small and mid-sized customers.
Cisco vice-president of the worldwide partner-led, Andrew Sage, said supporting small businesses is still in its scope but the company will develop a deeper focus into the SMB space this year.
“We’re convinced that the right place to focus that investment is on our partners and through this program, Cisco will provide three things – preference, support and investment,” he said.
Partners participating in the program are entitled to receive increased preference, investment and support in the form of business accelerators such as incremental incentives, engineering support, marketing and demand generation, sales enablement and customer intelligence.
It also offers incremental incentives, virtual engineering support, marketing resources, premium sales enablement and customer intelligence to partners who obligate to a highly collaborative selling approach with Cisco.
The program will be rolled out differently in the various geographies, depending on the amount of focus it has on the channel. The company is in the midst of working out the variations.
Cisco also announced a new pre-sales engineering service, Partner Help Plus, available only to partners within the partner plus program. Partner Help Plus offers 24-hour, five-days-a-week availability of Cisco engineers.
Along with that, a new partner plus incentive program was introduced that rewards partners with cash, demand generation and enablement activities. Partners that intend to join the program need to be a certified in its gold, silver, premier and select segments. They also need to attain a revenue bar that varies from country to country.
Cisco rolled out the program on May 1 in the US and Canada. Other regions including A/NZ, will receive the migration in the second wave – expected to be available in August this year.
Collapses multiple services programs
Cisco revised 47 of its global services programs to scale and consolidated them into a single new entity – the Cisco Services Partner Program.
It will provide access to Cisco’s smart services portfolio and compensate partners for the value of services they offer customers.
Cisco senior vice-president of worldwide sales and channels, Nick Earle, said the company made the move to merge all the programs under an umbrella program as the value of services to partners has risen significantly.
“Five years ago, services were 20 per cent of Cisco and 20 per cent of partners’ businesses. Today, services is still about 20 per cent to Cisco but, it’s up to 50 per cent of our partners’ businesses,” he said.
The program was also designed to differentiate its offerings from those of its competitors such as HP, Juniper and Avaya.
“Our competitive strategy is not just about enabling our partners to offer box versus box,” he said.
It equips partners with Smart services, a software which helps accelerate a partner’s profitability and growth by packaging, automating and scaling Cisco’s intellectual capital.
The program offers enable partners access to Cisco’s Smart-enabled service portfolio, a new collaborative smart service, Partner Support Service and access to Cisco’s intellectual capital.
There are two ways partners can be in the program: as a Cisco branded services reseller or by collaborative services.
The Cisco Services Partner program will closely align with the Cisco Channel Partner program, a new services incentive that rewards the quality of a partner-customer relationship and provides greater rewards for their investment with Cisco.
It will be made available globally in the next 12 to 18 months.
Enhances Cloud offerings
Cisco will soon launch Cloud Connect – a new software platform that enhances Cloud deployments, increases Cloud security and simplifies Cloud-based operations, according to Cisco chief technology officer, Padmasree Warrior.
Cloud Connect will enable its users to construct applications using Cisco’s Cloud software platform and modify it to suit their individual needs. “The software platform is created in conjunction with technologies from several recent Cisco acquisitions,” she said.
According to Warrior, although other businesses such as HP and Google are focusing on specific parts of the Cloud, Cisco will continue to offer Cloud applications, networking and infrastructure solutions.
Cisco will provide more information surrounding the solution in the coming months. The company will look to bring to market some tools to facilitate the programming of the networks.
In Australia, ICT provider, Data#3, announced that it has deployed Cisco’s Intelligent Automation for Cloud software solution to support its Cloud services and datacentre business.
According to Cisco A/NZ managing director of the Partner Business Group, Sara Adams, Data #3 is one of the first Australian partners to integrate the solution into its operations.
In Australia, Telstra, CSC, Dimension Data and Optus/Alphawest have already adopted it.
Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud is a self-service provisioning and orchestration software solution for datacentre automation and IT as a service (ITaaS).
Adams said Cisco is differentiating its Cloud solutions to cater to the rising demand of customers adjusting Cloud solutions to meet their needs.
“It is critical that our partners can help chart a customer’s journey to the Cloud that is flexible enough to be deployed on-premises or hosted in a datacentre while being simple to deploy and operate,” Adams said.
Cisco A/NZ is in discussions with other Australian systems integrators in deploying the solution.
Awards top channel partners
Cisco also awarded its top global and theatre channel partners for 2012 at its Cisco Global Partner Summit.
Dimension Data Asia-Pacific nailed the award for Asia-Pacific, Japan, and Greater China Partner of the Year, Express Data received the global award for Innovation in Distribution and Ingram Micro received the award for Distributor of the Year. Westcon Group won Distribution Partner of the Year for the APJC region.
These awards were amongst other global winners that were selected from more than 280,000 Cisco channel partners worldwide for their outstanding performance in 2011.
“Every year that we get together, there is going to be a new technology, a new large company coming into our space, new start-ups and the ability to talk about technology changes,” Cisco CEO and chairman, John Chambers, said.
Supports the London 2012 Olympics
The company announced its involvement with Olympic Games for the first time in Cisco history. The company will be the official network infrastructure provider for the 2012 Summer Games in London.
As part of its participation, it will be building Cisco House in the Olympic grounds – a facility that showcases its solutions and its partners’ solutions.
Cisco’s top 5 priorities
2. Collaboration in mobility
3. Datacentres and virtualisation for the Cloud
5. Architectures for business collaboration
ARN journalist, Hafizah Osman, attended the event courtesy of Cisco.