Cisco Partner Summit 2014 Takeaways


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.

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:

  • Borderless Networks Architecture gets broken into two new specializations, one for Security Architecture and another for Enterprise Networks.
  • Two new Masters level specializations were introduced: Enterprise Networking and Service Provider Technology.
  • New solution specializations were announced for FlexPod, Desktop Virtualization, Vblock/VSPEX, and Enterprise Mobility
  • There will be a New Internet of Things (IoT) Specialization
  • Two new Healthcare ATP programs, one for Cisco HealthPresence and another for Extended Care solutions

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.


One response to “Cisco Partner Summit 2014 Takeaways

  1. They have a lot of great products for the same market.
    For example, as a customer, I’m confused with Cisco’s DC strategy. Which one is better if I want to build a green field DC for 10k servers?
    1. 7K/5K/1KV with DFA
    2. 9K with ACI/openfx/APIC



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