Cisco Systems Talks SMB Managed Services

As Cisco Systems prepares to announce a comprehensive channel strategy for commercial sales, the networking giant is pitching managed services opportunities to channel partners at this week's CompTIA Breakaway conference in San Antonio, Texas. Here's what Cisco had to say.

During a CompTIA Breakway keynote session, Cisco Small Business Technology Group Senior VP Ian Pennell said partners need to "coach and quarterback" small business customers through business and technology changes.

One potential opportunity is to roll out managed services that deliver at least three basic capabilities: Connect, Secure and Communicate, Pennell added. "The partner is the helper of the small buiness exeprience,"said Pennell. "Balancing targeted products, hosted services, portals and management and recurring revenues" is both the challenge and the opportunity ahead.

Pennell noted that managed services industry revenues are growing faster than traditional IT product sales. With that thought in mind, it's clear managed services will be a key component within Cisco's forthcoming commercial channel sales strategy. That commercial effort, including an SMB push, is expected to be announced within 60 days, according to sources close to Cisco.

Leading up to that effort, Cisco VP of Worldwide Small Business Sales Andrew Sage is set to attend and host key meetings at Breakaway. And new North American Channel Chief Jim Sherriff may also make the trip from Austin, Texas to  San Antonio, Texas, for Breakaway. And within the next few weeks, it sounds clear to me that Cisco plans to build multiple next-generation channel delivery mechanisms into small business. Much in the way that Cisco has standardized its distributor strategy worldwide, it's safe to expect a similar standardized go-to-market process in small business, sources say.

While some large IT vendors have struggled to understand the managed services market, Cisco successfully reinvented and relaunched its MSP partner program in September 2009.

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