What a difference a year makes. Or in this case, less than a year. Rewind to mid-2009. Cisco Systems had a limited, somewhat flawed managed services partner program. Fast forward to the present, and a growing number of solutions providers are signing on to earn Cisco's Managed Services Master Certification. The two latest examples involve BlueWater Communications Group and Insight Enterprises. Here are the details.
Here's some quick background: Back in mid-2009, Cisco's managed services partner program required MSPs to have their own dedicated, certified NOC (network operation center). That hurdle proved too high for many smaller MSPs, which often depend on third-party NOC services. By September 2009, Cisco had overhauled its MSP partner program, allowing MSPs to leverage third-party, Cisco-certified NOCs.
The results seem promising. The overhauled program has been attracting large and midsize MSPs, with smaller MSPs now giving the partner program a look as well.
Recent MovesFour prime examples:
1. BlueWater Communications Group: One of Cisco's fastest-growing channel partners, BlueWater launched BLUE -- a managed services initiative and dedicated NOC -- in November 2009. CEO Bob Cagnazzi described the BLUE managed services strategy in this FastChat video. Fast forward to February 2010, and BlueWater has earned the Cisco Managed Services Master Certification.
2. Insight Enterprises Inc.: The $4.1 billion, publicly held solutions provider disclosed its Managed Services Master Certification today. Within the press release, Insight noted a strong focus on ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library), a set of best practices for managing IT. Insight has also specialized in managed security and managed unified communications.
3. HEIT: An MSPMentor 100 company, HEIT has been evangelizing its Cisco-oriented managed services since at least November 2009.
4. MegaPath Inc.: A broadband and voice specialist, MegaPath jumped on the Cisco managed services bandwagon in January 2010.
Next MovesI realize four sample MSPs do not represent the broader managed services market. But as we approach the 2010 Cisco Partner Summit, I sense that Cisco will be sharing more data points about its managed services partner momentum.
Of course, Cisco isn't the only networking company reaching out to MSPs. Juniper Networks, for instance, has been working more closely with MSPs for about a year now.