At the Cisco Partner Summit 2012, Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) unveiled its Services Partner Program, a new initiative that reduces the number of services programs from 47 to one and rewards partners based on their level of investment -- the greater the investment, the greater the rebates.

Services make up a significant amount of Cisco Systems' channel partners' revenue -- in some cases, 50 percent, according to Cisco. But, customers spend six times more running and maintaining their networks than buying networks, said Nick Earle, senior vice president of Worldwide Service Sales and Channel at Cisco. Relieving customers of those maintenance tasks represents a $200 billion opportunity, he said, which means more money in the pockets of channel partners offering some type of service.

A large component of the Services Partner Program is the expansion of Cisco smart services, software-based technology that discovers a network, analyzes it and correlates that information with other resources to provide "actionable insight," according to Cisco. As such SPP is comprised of smart components that leverage Cisco's intellectual capital, open API access and "smart bonding" to enable partners to build their own smart services.

Cisco's intellectual capital is based on its insight into corporate networks by its penetration -- Cisco owns the largest portion of the installed IT base -- and its 25 years of supporting that installed base, Earle said.

Cisco partners have the ability to offer smart services in three flavors: SmartNet Total Care, which is a fully baked service partners can resell; SmartCare, a blend of Cisco and partner-developed services; and Partner Support Service, a partner-developed services set based on smart services components partners can purchase.

The value proposition for Cisco's channel partners, Earle noted, is smart services can be used to offer reactive services such as analyzing a network for issues, proactive services such as making suggestions to improve network performance or pre-emptive services such as discovering areas of noncompliance within a company's network.

The Services Partner Program is not new -- it rolled out to 2,500 partners in the United States and Canada in 2011. As a result, Earle said, there was a threefold increase in the number of participating partners earning rebates compared to the previous programs.

Cisco expects to roll out the Services Partner Program globally within the next 12 to 18 months.