Cisco takes aim at software with new partner program

MONTREAL – Cisco Systems introduced new partner programs aligned to solution providers being able to create or enhance software practices and hybrid IT.

At the Cisco Partner Summitt the networking giant unveiled its Cisco Software Partner Program that features three new roles such as Software Lifecycle Advisor, Software Consultant and Software Integrator. These new roles will be made available in early 2016 and are indented to help monetize the channel opportunity within software.

Steve Benvenuto, Sr. Director, Business Development at Cisco, said the new incentives will be released the same time as the program launch in 2016. But, he did tell CDN that Cisco has already introduced many incentives some in pilot programs but others in professional services, lifecycle management in the collaboration space. Cisco software is now part of the VIP program as well.

“The strategy with the Software Program incentives is to bring them altogether. To consolidate them and make it easier for the channel. We are also going to accelerate them in 2016 especially for lifecycle management,” Benvenuto said.

The Lifecycle Advisor role attempts to position the solution provider to help customers understand how best to adopt, use and manage software and services specific to introducing all the features of the software solutions and enabling renewals. Benvenuto, who is also in charge of the Cisco partner ecosystems and programs, added that this role will increase stickiness for the channel.

Kent MacDonald, vice president of converged infrastructure at CDN Top 100 solution provider Long View Systems of Calgary, said the software licensing area of the business is the fastest growth segment, but the company does not try to force renewals upon customers if they don’t use the software. Instead, MacDonald said Long View enables software adoption from the beginning.

“There is a lot to like about the Cisco Software Partner Program. I can see that the voice of the partner is in this program. I also recognize that this plan will help us transition customers, help them implement software from the beginning and deliver on outcomes expected by the clients. It’s also gives us new ways to expand our market with cloud and professional services,” MacDonald said.

The Software Consultant role is an area Cisco admits it has not focused on in the past. There are many consultants are are helping customers in this transitional journey but do not resell any products. Cisco plans to work with consultants and help them partner with solution providers to deliver more Cisco software.

The last role is Software Integrator and Cisco here is identifying those solution providers who have expertise in many software packages and are able to integrate them to other software platforms.
Worldwide channel chief Bruce Klein said that many people do not view Cisco as a software company, but added that those should not bet against the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor.

For example in the last 10 acquisitions nine of them are software vendors including SourceFire, Embrane, JouleX, Composite and SolveDirect.

And, Cisco has made other investments to broaden its software offering such as CiscoOne suites, Connected Analytics and the Cloud suite.

Benvenuto said that this role-based program is aimed to help partners monetize around software, while also expanding services, cloud opportunities. “The goal is to support the busienss outcomes for customers for the Internet of Everything,” he said.

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Paolo Del Nibletto
Paolo Del Nibletto
Former editor of Computer Dealer News, covering Canada's IT channel community.

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