Honolulu, Hawaii — When you ask Rob Lloyd, Cisco Systems‘ (NASDAQ: CSCO) senior vice-president of U.S., Canada, and Japan operations to compare how the Canadian subsidiary and the Canadian channel partners are doing compared to the other regions, he perks up, draws a slight smile and then gives a glowing account of how well things are in the Great White North.
Lloyd is a Canadian after all, but Cisco’s focus in Canada the past few years has paid off. The region has engaged in more transformational opportunities in healthcare and in the public and private sector and, with the Scientific Atlanta acquisition, Cisco Canada has even seen a dramatic increase in the consumer space.
He added that while the U.S. has seen a slowdown with a less rapid conversion rate in its pipeline, that hasn’t been the case in the Canadian market. “ Canada has not caught the cold,” he said.
CDN Now sat down with Lloyd, the former GM of Cisco Canada, to talk about the new opportunities coming out of the Partner Summit here, and some of the challenges facing the company and its channel network.
CDN Now: What do you see as the biggest challenges you have, going to market, from a sales standpoint?
Rob Lloyd: In Canada, it’s a matter of taking the breadth of our technology portfolio and making it reach across each of the market segments we serve. The challenge with channel enablement is to scale their expertise in a country that has a massive geography and relatively low density, and bring that expertise to the product lines. It’s easier to do in the U.S. and Europe with their densities, and it can be more regionalized. The Canadian team is working on providing more virtual capabilities with WebEx and TelePresence and other scaling tools, so that we can bring a broad set of technical knowledge to the regions. We’ve done a few pilots on virtual experts to try and bring them in to a conversation.
CDN Now: What are the top market segments for your partners right now, and why?
R.L.: It’s unified communications driven by this increasing demand for collaboration. It’s booming and partners need to sell IP telephony. The transformational needs of the applications; that is job one.
Number two is that there is an emerging opportunity, not for all, in the data centre for those partners in servers, storage and networking. We have a lot of partners now that overlap with IBM and EMC, and it’s a tremendous opportunity in virtualization to simplify the customer and get them to the next level.
Number three is becoming a bigger deal with partners, and that’s to solve the international growth plans of customers. Traditionally most of the partners (who could handle international business) are Gold. But our customers are expanding around the world. I believe one opportunity for the channel is to jump on that global growth trend. A Canadian partner in Quebec could find a qualified partner to help their customer in a call centre in Hungary . If we can create that collaboration we can really help partners to benefit from the global expansion of the network. There are thousands of customers here. The world is flat and the network is making it flat.
CDN Now: What is the business case for Web 2.0 technologies in the enterprise today?
R.L.: We’ve seen the concept of community and collaboration transform the personal and social lives with social networking sites and self-published video. I’m seeing a lot of pressure being put on the business customer to equip employees with the same tools in workplace as they have at home. If the question is: “Are you seeing a process to deploy these technologies in the enterprise?” the answer is a 100 per cent yes. What the channel can enable is the foundation of a whole different layer of collaboration in small business, healthcare, public and private sector and the enterprise. It’s happening now. We’re in the early days of social networking tools that will enable much more effective intra and inter office collaboration.
CDN Now: Do you see Data Center 3.0 as a channel opportunity just for Gold partners, or is there a chance for others?
R.L.: Data centre transacts all customer sizes. Cisco’s history is typically we get the big one first and then scale it down to a smaller version. Initially, the next generation Nexus 7000 and 5000, those will be in large data centre environments. We have some data centre models that are for small business. In government, the technology is very applicable with legacy system moving to new. It’s going to be. let’s say. a medium and large business play scaling to small, but it will create a unified fabric for key data centre technology such as Ethernet and fibre channel, which will lead to consolidation. The channel will play an important role in making this transition to the unified fabric.
CDN Now: We learned at this event that WebEx is coming to the channel. How do you see that opportunity rolling out?
R.L.: There are two opportunities for the channel. There is the licensing of the subscription, but the more interesting opportunity is the process change the channel can get into. It’s a complete white space now. This isn’t about selling WebEx, but the process change and collaboration process to evolve a dealer network, or bring more collaboration to the sales process and to maintenance services. The channel shouldn’t see this as just a subscription of the WebEx service, but the process transformation they can lead. The opportunity for process change is as rich as the technology that goes along with it, and you have a place for large and small in this addressable market.
CDN‘s full Cisco Partner Summit 2008 coverage
April 9, 2008: Cisco adds data centre to VIP program
April 9, 2008: Blog Golden opportunity in the data centre
April 10, 2008: Cisco unveils Partner Exchange
April 10, 2008: Cisco to push WebEx to the channel
April 11, 2008: Meet Cisco’s Mr. SMB
April 11, 2008: The Canadian market according to Lloyd