Cisco updates partner program, CEO says shift to Everything-as-a-Service will be a ‘lengthy process’

Transitioning the majority of the company’s portfolio to be delivered as-a-service is going to be a “lengthy process,” according to Cisco’s chief executive officer.

Roughly two months after making it clear that Cisco was accelerating its push into the as-a-service arena – and that includes the company’s core networking hardware – Chuck Robbins elaborated on those plans at Cisco Partner Summit Digital on Oct. 28.

Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins answers questions during a Q&A.

“We’re transitioning everything to be cloud-managed or cloud-delivered,” Robbins said during a Q&A with reporters after his partner summit keynote. Internet monitoring solution startup ThousandEyes, an important acquisition made in June, he noted, combined with another acquisition in AppDynamics, have been critical in improving their cloud service capabilities. But Robbins admitted the move to Everything-as-a-Service gets complicated when it comes to hardware.

“It’s easier to do that with our security portfolio compared to ethernet switches,” he explained. “The market is going to determine what makes the most sense.”

Robbins cited some numbers that indicated the company was heading in the right direction, albeit slowly. Fifty-one per cent of Cisco’s revenue came from software and service in FY 2020, just exceeding its target of 50 per cent. When Robbins took over as CEO in 2015, he says the software subscription service was bringing in roughly $3.4 billion per year. At the end of FY20, that figure was $10.5 billion. That’s still only roughly 20 per cent of their overall revenue.

“We’ve made a lot of progress, but we have a ways to go,” he stated.

The New Cisco Partner Program. Source: Cisco

Changes to Cisco’s partner program should help with the transition, according to Oliver Tuszik, senior vice-president of Cisco’s Global Partner Organization. During the online summit, the head of channel acknowledged the many disparate components of the tech giant’s existing partner program, which is why Cisco is reducing that complexity to four key areas: Integrator, provider, developer, and advisor. Partners can choose to focus on one role, or all four—whatever makes the most sense for their business. Each role features “Select”, “Premier” and “Gold” levels that come with their own incentives and benefits for partners.

Tuszik says he believes this will help partners benefit from partner program perks without having to figure out which of the dozen partner categories they fit into.

Marc Suplus, VP of strategy, planning and programs at Cisco, says 2020 and the pandemic “greatly accelerated the need for our partners to transform to deliver
managed services and SaaS to lines of business, to develop applications and automation on top of Cisco platforms and to generate full customer value across the lifecycle.”

New tools for legislative and judicial operations

Cisco also recently unveiled collaboration solutions for justice systems and legislative bodies worldwide. The new solutions combine elements of the Cisco portfolio, including Cisco Webex video conferencing, with expertise and innovation from Cisco Customer Experience (CX) and the Cisco partner ecosystem. It’s meant to address the need for improved, and more secure, video conferencing experiences in North American justice systems.

One of those solutions, Webex Legislate, enables:

  • Single sign-on with multifactor authentication;
  • Visual and verbal verification with secure lobby admission to verify the identity of voting members;
  • Chain of custody for all procedures, including voting;
  • Anonymous or customized voting, with detailed statistics by party and voter.

“To speed access to these tools, Cisco’s Public Funding Office has increased capacity to help customers and partners navigate funding sources and accelerate projects that help them serve their communities through the pandemic,” the company noted in an Oct. 28 press release.

With the help of Cisco U.S. partners Cloverhound and TRACKtech, the trio launched Cisco Connected Justice, a video conferencing solution designed specifically for courts, correctional facilities and community corrections.


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Alex Coop
Alex Coop
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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