Cisco Vows Not to Become Service Provider

Cisco Vows Not to Become Service Provider

Cisco’s Al SafarikasAt a time when some managed service providers are worried about Dell, Microsoft and Google moving onto their turf, Cisco Systems is taking a stand and offering assurances to MSPs.

During a phone chat with MSPmentor, Al Safarikas (pictured), Cisco’s senior director of service provider managed services, said Cisco remains true to its word and has no plans to become a service provider.

In recent weeks, potential competition between IT vendors and service providers has been a hot topic for many MSPs. Dell in early April sent a letter to MSPs, indicating that the PC giant planned to test direct promotions of managed services to some customers. And Microsoft's latest Online Services strategy, announced in March 2008, includes some direct sales components.

Cisco's Safarikas points out that Microsoft has been a service provider for more than decade, thanks to efforts like the Microsoft Network (MSN). In stark contrast, Safarikas says Cisco will not transform itself in a service provider.

Asked if Cisco considers itself an "arms dealer" to all service providers, Safarikas said no. Rather, he believes Cisco's partner programs for MSPs and other types of service providers involve commitments to long-term relationships rather than one-off engagements.

Cisco announced its MSP partner strategy in October 2007. And in February 2008, Cisco introduced a "per user, per day" pricing model that may help MSPs promote unified communications and VoIP solutions.

Frankly, MSPmentor hasn't been too distracted by vendors (Dell, Microsoft, Google,etc.) promoting managed services and software as a service (SaaS) on their own. It seems impossible for SaaS software providers to ensure the bulk of their engagements involve partner MSPs.

Still, some MSPs are remain upset about potentially competing with IT product suppliers. Cisco is among the few big suppliers that has clearly it has no plans to become a service provider.

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