Top 100 Cisco Partner Summit Highlights (100-81)
Everything you need to know–and a few things you’d rather not know–about Cisco’s annual partner conference, held this week at the Venetian Hotel Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Let’s start the countdown…
100) Free WiFi In the Casino: The Venetian has fantastic free WiFi coverage throughout its casino floors and conference meeting rooms. The WiFi connections gave The VAR Guy ample time to goof off and write blog entries like this.
99) Pathetic WiFi In Guest Rooms: The Venetian doesn’t want you hanging out in your hotel room. They want you down on the casino floor losing your money. That’s why in-room wireless and wired service is so lousy and cost $10 per day.
98) Cisco Launches SMB Initiative: After several years of planning, Cisco finally unveils the Smart Business Communications System. The race is on between Cisco and Microsoft partners to empower small businesses with unified communications.
97) Healthy Opportunity: Cisco demonstrates TelePresence solution for the health care market. Video conferencing comes to the doctor’s office. Known as HealthPresence, the demo is a concept rather than a shipping product.
96) For Sale – Waterfront Condo: Cisco Channel VP Chuck Robbins meets with a Mississippi solutions provider. Robbins mentions he’s got a Gulf Coast condo for sale. Beautiful condition. Waterfront. And no local hurricanes in the forecast for at least the next few hours. Throw in a few Cisco stock options and maybe The VAR Guy will make an offer.
95) Sold On Salesforce.com: This nifty piece of info got lost in the hype around Cisco’s big SMB push. Cisco and Salesforce.com are quietly working to integrate their small business solutions. Heck, Cisco is even integrating with Microsoft’s CRM solution. Finally, Cisco seems to be waking up to the world of ISVs.
94) Who Chose This Menu?: Cisco Channel VP Chuck Robbins sat down for lunch with 250 partners on Tuesday. The choices included steak, steak … and steak. Robbins doesn’t eat red meat. Yet the luncheon was paid for from his budget. The VAR Guy tried to ignore the irony and devoured his own steak. Somewhere between The VAR Guy’s first and second helping of dessert, Robbins was served an alternative meal.
93) Say Yes to Refurbished Hardware: Instead of ignoring the market for used networking gear, Cisco is embracing it. The VAR Guy ran into Cisco’s “Remarketing Manager” Tuesday night. He described how Cisco is now certifying used gear to round out comprehensive solutions. He asked me not to quote him, though, because he feared Cisco’s PR Police would silence him for good.
92) Hanging Up On Avaya: Riordan Maynard, founding partner of Touchbase–a major solutions provider in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America–says his company stopped offering Avaya solutions in recent days because “none of the competing vendors can keep up with Cisco.” The VAR Guy isn’t suggesting that all Avaya partners will run to Cisco. But when was the last time you heard of a partner making the opposite move and dumping Cisco for Avaya? The answer: Never.
91) Watch IP Surveillance: Cisco is hinting throughout the event that video IP surveillance will be one of the next big applications for its solutions providers. Right now, Cisco won’t let some partners sell IP surveillance solutions because the VARs lack physical security expertise. But there’s a high probability Cisco will allow VARs to partner with physical security companies to overcome this problem, The VAR Guy hears.
90) The Ocean Called. They’re Out of Shrimp: The VAR Guy loaded up on seafood Monday night at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino. He certainly got his money’s worth at the all-you-can-eat buffet. He’s not fat. He’s just big-boned.
89) Cisco vs. Linksys: How will Cisco position its SMB products vs. the company’s Linksys subsidiary? “We won’t dictate what customers use where,” says Wendy Bahr, VP of US Commercial Channels at Cisco. However, Cisco’s SMB solutions will be designed and positioned more for growing companies, while Linksys solutions will fit small businesses that don’t expect radical growth or change, she hints.
88) iPhone, iPod, iSue?: Sure, Cisco and Apple settled the iPhone lawsuit. Cisco actually had another product under development, code-named MediPod … but the company decided to change the name because they didn’t feel like dealing with another rant from Steve Jobs.
87) Virtual Teachers: Cisco hopes to build a network of VARs and certified professionals who can train each other and troubleshoot network problems using TelePresence video conferencing technologies. Details still pending.
86) Expensive Ointment: The VAR Guy actually paid $3.50 for Chapstick in the hotel gift store. Memo to his boss: Can he expense that?
85) Developing Picture: The VAR Guy suspects TelePresence technology remains too expensive for most customers to consider. A Cisco insider puts a more friendly spin on the situation, stating that TelePresence is initially catching on with Fortune 500 customers.
84) Nobody Goes There Anymore; It’s Too Crowded: More than 2500 partners are at the event, which is sold out. Cisco actually had to turn away some partners that wanted to register on site.
83) Damn Glad to Meet You: Cisco Channel VP Chuck Robbins visited at least seven separate receptions Tuesday night, shaking hands with partners from across the globe. He knew most of them on a first-name basis.
82) At Least He’s Not Miss Piggy: A certain Cisco manager closely resembles Benson Honeydew from The Muppets. Side-by-side photos of the Cisco manager and Dr. Honeydew have been circulating across Cisco’s network.
81) Heeeere’s Johnny: CEO John Chambers was spotted here today. Instead of kicking off the event, he’s scheduled to close it on Thursday.
Check back for items 80-61 on Wednesday.