Cisco has courage. The world of IT is changing, and rather than cling to the successes of the past, Cisco is trying to embrace and shape the future. Bruce Klein quoted Peter Drucker as saying “The best way to predict the future is to create the future.” It’s clear that Cisco is trying to do just that. In order to pull it off, Cisco and its partners will have to change more in the next year than they have in the previous three years. John Chambers says that at least 1/3 of companies will not survive 25 years.
If you want a real blow-by-blow account, go review my twitter feed from the dates of the Cisco Partner Summit 2014. In this blog post I’m providing some summary wrap-up thoughts.
Partner Model Changes
In a business model where much of a Cisco partner’s success depends on clarity about what Cisco is doing, trust was evident because most partners were content to embrace the general changes being announced even with the caveat that full details won’t be announced for months (some in May, some later in 2014). Personally, I’m impatient about that sort of thing, but only because I like for NetCraftsmen to demonstrate our leadership by being at the front of changes. The changes all sounded pretty reasonable in concept.
Retiring the Silver level of partner certification (effective 4/1/2016) was a surprise, but I didn’t hear any partner say it was a bad idea. Chesapeake NetCraftsmen could have been Silver for years before we went Gold, and we just never saw a good enough reason to do it.
Adding an additional Architectural Level of specialization to Cisco Gold partners sounds worse than it is since Borderless Networks is being split into its component parts of Enterprise Networks and Security.
Here’s a list of the major changes to the Cisco specialization ecosystem that will matter to partners:
Gold Partners will be required to have at least one Business Value Practitioner on staff. These are exceedingly rare today, but Cisco has a number of programs to help partners get their sales staff trained. Chesapeake NetCraftsmen’s Denise Donohue recently became the 3rd BVP certified individual in the world, so we’re ahead of the curve for meeting that new requirement.
The requirement for Gold partners to sell four “Hybrid IT” solutions, with at least one managed service and at least one Cisco Cloud service is interesting. On the one hand, I don’t like Cisco dictating that much of our business model. On the other hand, I doubt there’s a serious Cisco partner anywhere who hasn’t been thinking about doing something like this if they haven’t already begun. Partners seemed generally accepting of this “tough love” approach from Cisco.
Overall, I like being a Cisco partner. I think Cisco’s architectural approaches are a key differentiator that justify investing time with them.
The ability to meet people, both Cisco people and other partners, can be invaluable. Even in the technology business, relationships matter.
Cloud, Mobility, and the Internet of Everything
Cisco’s going big on cloud, announcing a $1B investment there.
The InterCloud concept of any workload, any hypervisor, any cloud service, with portability & security sounds compelling, and potentially too good to be true. I can’t wait to see it later this year to see if it lives up to the billing.
The Connected Mobile Experience (CMX) is getting better and better, enabling new business value. People need to think outside the box to find how new sources of information & connectivity can drive business value. I think this will be a big part of enabling IoE business.
The Internet of Everything is going to be bigger than we can simply conceive. It’s already pretty jumbo sized. The lowest of the low hanging fruit here is in ruggedized equipment, where Cisco has very few partners active and sees a lot of room to grow. The real power will come in as sensors become ubiquitous, and Cisco’s customers and partners will need to move and process huge volumes of data in near real time. This will open worlds of business opportunities for all kinds of companies!
It’s very clear that Cisco sees the Nexus 9000 / ACI / SDN direction as the way to go in the data center and beyond. Expect it to happen, starting in the data center.
Cisco says they want to be the #1 IT company in the world. I think they have a shot at it if they can pull this off and not rest on their past.
Thanks and Suggestions
I really appreciated Cisco’s social media team publishing the twitter scoreboard. It helped me identify top tweeters and motivated me to be more active on twitter. I enjoyed meeting the people who are so often behind the scenes there.
Cisco ran an airport shuttle to get partners to the Summit – but the hours were too narrow for me, with the last shuttle leaving before my luggage was ready at baggage claim. Extend the hours, please.
The Collaboration Lounge is a great option for informal meetings. It needs to be open even longer. With the espresso bar open the whole time.
The access to Cisco executives we get at the Cisco Partner Summit is impressive. Keep up that commitment. I’ll always chose to attend in person over virtually if I have the chance because of the informal introductions that get made when you’re meeting people in person. That just doesn’t happen over video no matter how good.
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Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.
Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.
John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services. Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.
He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.