Cisco Systems has announced it's commitment to spending $1 million on its Australian channel between now and the end of the fiscal year in July.
Peter Ambrose, Cisco's SMB development manager, said a lot of the programs the vendor has put together are focussed on skilling up the channel so they are "better equipped" to provide solutions to their customers.
Ambrose said Cisco had committed to this spending because, "If you don't invest you don't get returns. If thechannel grows, Cisco grows," he added.
The spending will include financing a Cisco Scholarship program, with 100 scholarships to be allocated. To be eligible applicants need to be authorised resellers and meet certain criteria, including: a commitment to expanding networking within the reseller's business mix; training time for staff to be able to carry out both classroom and online study; the reseller's customer base being predominantly SMBs; and the ability for the reseller to grow into new technology areas, such as security and IP telephony.
Ambrose said Cisco was currently developing the courses, and organising the trainers and time frame for the scholarship program.
Cisco is also concentrating on training 850 systems engineers in post-sales configuration skills for its switches and firewall products. These courses are being held in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane and will be running until early March.
According to Ambrose, it is also planning a second wave of training in April which will target 900 systems engineers. This training will focus on firewalls, routers and wireless LANs. Ambrose said these courses were aimed at giving systems engineers post-sale skills, to ensure their customer's networks were installed properly.
Cisco is developing additional courses for sales staff. These will target 160 sales representatives in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, and offers them an introduction to Cisco products. The vendor is also running a course which Ambrose describes as "sales 202", targeted at sales representatives, but with an emphasis on business.
Ambrose said demand for the courses had been extremely high and were already booked out with waiting lists. He attributes this to resellers wanting to become more capable in their dealings with customers, and also the benefit of accreditation to individual careers of channel staff.
The announcement of the $1 million spending comes in the wake of recent announcements by Cisco of strong second quarter results for the period ending on January 29, registering a sales increase of 53 per cent forfiscal Q2 2000.