Cisco reaches-out to managed service providers

Bangalore, India – Seeing strong growth opportunity in the managed services space, networking vendor Cisco Systems has launched a partner program targeted specifically at managed services providers (MSPs).

Dubbed the Cisco Managed Services Channel Program, the new program integrates the recently enhanced Cisco Powered Program framework and is intended to assist partners in bringing Cisco-powered managed services to market as well as incentive and financially reward partners.

“It will be an extension to our existing channel programs,” said Steve Steinhilber, Cisco’s vice-president, strategic alliances and corporate consulting engineering. “It’s really all encompassing and we’re looking at this as a significant growth opportunity.”

Indeed, Cisco quotes statistics from Gartner that predict a 28 per cent compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) for managed services between 2006 and 2011, two times the overall rate of IT growth.

Seeing IP-based managed services as having the potential to break down geographic borders and enable partners to do business in multiple geographies, Steinhilber said an aim of the program is to drive global consistency with predictable offerings. The new MSP partner program was launched as part of the opening of Cisco’s new Globalisation Centre East in Bangalore, India.

Partners will receive training, have access to joint marketing and branding opportunities, and receive financial rewards for delivering services that target customer business needs. Rebates and incentives will increase as a partner moved-up the program, ladder.

“It’s all about moving from a technology and transport (mindset) to (delivering) a high-quality user experience,” said Steinhilber.

The program will include three partner levels: Cisco Powered Managed Services, Strategic Managed Service, and Legacy Managed Service. The top level also initially includes designations for Connectivity, Unified Communications, Security, Mobility and Data Centre.

To ensure a high standard of service is delivered to customers by its MSP partners, Steinhilber said Cisco will be setting, and enforcing, high standards. ITIL-based entry criterion have been established for the program. Partners will be required to maintain a 24 by 7 network operations centre (NOC), have an existing resale agreement with Cisco, provide the vendor with end-user info, and be subjected to annual audits and meet certain service levels.

“The focus is making sure the provider delivers a high-quality SOA-based solution to the customer,” said Steinhilber.

Cisco expects the early adopters of the program to be the large systems integrators of the world, like Accenture. In Canada, Telus National Systems and Bell Business Solutions are beta partners in the program.

The MSP partner program is also drawing interest from Peter Stavropoulos, president of FlexITy solutions. The Richmond Hill, Ont.-based Cisco-partner is currently getting certified for the program, and Stavropoulos said he sees the Cisco brand as being a significant advantage in selling potential customers on managed services.

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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