Cisco Partner Summit 2011 Preview: What’s On Edison’s Mind?
IBM has Watson. Cisco Systems has Edison — as in Channel Chief Edison Peres. As Cisco Partner Summit 2011 gets set to kick off Feb. 28 in New Orleans, the networking giant faces a few question marks. On the upside, Peres, senior vice president of worldwide channels-go-to market, says four IT trends provide new opportunities for channel partners. But on the downside, Cisco itself seems to be facing intense competition and some questions on Wall Street. Here's the update.
Let's start with the positive. During a phone briefing earlier this week, Peres said four key trends — video, virtualization, collaboration and the cloud — are driving new opportunities for channel partners. Peres confirmed that a Cisco Cloud Computing Partner Program is set to launch at the conference. He also sees major opportunities for solutions providers that invest in architectures and vertical markets.
It sounds like plenty of partners will hear Cisco's channel messaging. Roughly 2,400 solutions providers are set to attend the face-to-face Cisco Partner Summit, while more than 5,000 have so far signed up to attend the Cisco Partner Summit virtual event. Impressive. Meanwhile, Cisco remains a tech giant. In its second quarter ended Jan. 29, revenue climbed 6 percent to $10.4 billion.
So far, so good. But concerns loom. CEO John Chambers says the company's architecture strategy is working, but Chambers also has been warning Wall Street about weak IT spending in the government sector. In recent weeks, Cisco shares have been trading near a 52-week low. Meanwhile, a few partners have asked The VAR Guy if Cisco is focusing on too many markets — launching numerous products across the consumer, SMB and enterprise markets. Also, there are signs that rivals are getting more aggressive. Juniper, for one, appears poised to launch a QFabric offering for data centers. And Hewlett-Packard has been talking big about its networking business — though HP has also disappointed investors in recent days.
The Topic At Hand
Ah, but this blog entry is about Cisco Systems — which is set to host its 15th annual partner summit Feb. 28 through March 3 in New Orleans. Early in the conference, it's safe to expect plenty of cloud perspectives, according to Peres. Later in the conference, watch for discussions around SMB and SME initiatives. Peres is warning partners not to lose sight of the total market opportunity, especially as the cloud noise becomes so loud.
During the phone briefing earlier this week, Peres remained true to form. Upbeat. Clear. Concise. Asked if Cisco is stretched too thin working on too many different products, Peres politely told The VAR Guy to pose the question to partners attending the conference. Give Peres and Cisco credit: The channel team and the company have always promoted an open dialog between its channel partners and the media.
The VAR Guy will be sure to meet with plenty of partners at the conference. But our resident blogger is also watching Cisco's executive team closely. Earlier today, Cisco promoted Executive VP Gary Moore into the COO (chief operating officer) post — a newly created position at the company. Moore will oversee the engineering, marketing, operations and services departments, and will prioritize the company's investments, the Associated Press reported.
It sounds like CEO John Chambers is calling in reinforcements…