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The Top 25 Newsmaker of 2006 – Number 12: Cisco Canada Ross Pellizzari

This year marked the debut of new specialization certifications Cisco hopes will make VARs more profitable

Cisco Systems’ partner program, which has gone from a volume- to value-based strategy, entered its next generation in 2006, according to the man overseeing its implementation here.

“We want partners deep into verticals to bring value to customers,” said Ross Pellizzari, vice-president of channel operations for Cisco Systems Canada.

Cisco’s new Master Specialization certification program is for partners that want to dive deeper into specific technology areas.

The first of these was introduced in September for security, and the second was rolled out in November for unified communications.

Going forward, the programs will get more focused, said Pellizzari. “Any new programs down the pipe will be more streamlined and efficient in driving productivity and profit for partners.”

But he also said that rather than adding to its existing partner base, the Cisco channel operation here will try to better understand partners and help evolve their business.

“We’re going to educate our channel account managers on the power of marketing . . . the new Cisco brand and partner brand and how to marry the two to drive demand in a vertical or geography.”