Cisco Cloud Partner Program: An Early Look
Cisco Systems is set to unveil a cloud partner program during Cisco Partner Summit (Feb. 28-March 3, New Orleans). But what exactly will the Cisco Cloud Partner Program involve — and what types of partners can potentially profit from the effort? Edison Peres, Cisco’s senior VP of worldwide channels go-to-market, provides some preliminary clues.
During a phone briefing yesterday, Peres confirmed the cloud partner program plans but he was careful to broaden the conversation. “The cloud will be one of many conversations at the conference,” said Peres. “We want to help partners understand where the opportunities are. But if all partners see on the horizon is cloud computing then they’re being short-sighted. It’s only one of many opportunities.”
Indeed, Peres points to four key market transitions hitting at once: Video, collaboration, virtualization and the cloud. During Cisco Partner Summit 2011, which is expected to attract more than 2,400 solutions providers, Peres will discuss a three-part strategy for partners.
First up, Peres says, partners need to choose their role in the cloud. This can involve one to three options, he asserts:
- Become a builder of clouds
- Become a provider of clouds (involving public and/or private offerings)
- Or become a cloud services reseller
Avoiding Channel Conflict In the Cloud
Peres was quick to note that Cisco has no intention of being a cloud services provider. “It was a conscious decision,” said Peres. “It’s not our intent to compete with service providers. We may have an occasional offering like WebEx” but you won’t see Cisco building out its own public cloud for channel partners, said Peres.
Next up, Peres will call on partners to invest in architectures and vertical markets. That’s a particularly timely discussion, considering Cisco CEO John Chambers has publicly warned Wall Street that IT spending within a key vertical — the government sector — will likely get pinched. Peres said Cisco Partner Summit won’t have a specific message about the challenging government market, but he also pointed out that business challenges introduce new opportunities.
“We are all hearing governors from multiple [U.S.] states describing their budget challenges,” said Peres. “But for a lot of cities, cost cuts can involve using IT to become more productive.”
Finally, Peres said his Cisco Partner Summit presentation will focus on professional services. In particular, channel partners need to assure that their business is professional services led.
Peres stopped short of sharing deeper details about the cloud partner program. But I wonder if it will leverage some thoughts and ideas from Cisco’s managed services partner program. Cisco overhauled its MSP partner program in late 2009 and the move generated some clear momentum with MSPs across North America. The MSP partner program allows Cisco partners to leverage certified NOCs (network operations centers) from one another. I suspect Cisco may take a similar path with the cloud partner program.