In no certain order (other than where they appear in my notebooks), here are the major takeaways from the Cisco Partner Summit:
(Trying to) Make it Simple: Cisco partners have long complained about how difficult it was to do business with the vendor -- especially when it came to getting quotes and booking orders. But that's changed: Gary Moore, Cisco COO, noted the company now can turn a quote 35 percent faster and book an order 50 percent faster.
Services Rule: Nothing says profit like services, said CEO John Chambers. He noted for every $1 in services the company does it equates to $5 for its partners. And Nick Earle, senior vice president, Worldwide Services Sales and Channels, said services comprise 50 percent of partners’ revenue and 70 percent of their profit. So, in the vein of keeping it simple, the company reduced the number of services programs it has for its channel partners to one comprehensive offering.
Midmarket is VIP: Cisco unveiled its new Partner Plus program aimed at the midmarket is an extension of its Value Incentive Program, which focuses on the SMB and midmarket space. SMB is well-addressed with VIP and its OnPlus managed services offering, said Andrew Sage, but Cisco now believes "midmarket is turning the sun"; hence, Partner Plus.
Data Center Momentum Continues: Data center is now the No. 1 growth area for most Cisco partners, said SVP of Worldwide Channels Edison Peres. But to architect and deliver clouds VARs need to be experts in data center, cloud infrastructure and the solutions that run on them. To address that need, Cisco has introduced a Cloud Builder Master Specialization, which combines its Data Center Specialization with the Cloud Builder Designation and a healthy does of competency training to deliver solutions including Vblock, FlexPod and Cisco's VXI architecture. "Think of it as a one-stop shop to deliver competency around cloud solutions," Peres said.
The Architecture's the Thing: Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior noted the changing technology consumption models including BYOD, video and personalization of applications means the role of solution providers is changing. "We have to think not just as technology providers but also think about new delivery models and how to monetize them," she said. "That includes provide seamless access across disparate networks and how to deliver collaboration in the post-PC era and enable BYOD (bring your own device) in the enterprise." Its Borderless Network architecture, Warrior said, provides an end-to-end solution through unified access, unified fabric and unified compute, and next-gen WAN via Cisco Cloud Connect, a not-yet-released software platform for enhancing cloud deployments, increasing cloud security and simplifying cloud-based operations -- all overlaid by Cisco's Collaboration Architecture. The result: a network that addresses every need in the enterprise, from the need for application policy across many devices to seamless operation between disparate networks and into the cloud.
Judging from the audience vibe during the event, Cisco partners understand the need to move bravely into this new technology paradigm. But addressing the morass that is mobility and putting in place the right architecture can be a huge challenge. Cisco's message to its partners was clear: We want to help. Here's hoping the company can.