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The tougher cloud management and services competency validates that partners have the skills to provide automated cloud provisioning, metering, self provisioning portals and billing systems. It also includes a professional services requirement. That cloud management and services track requires the basic cloud infrastructure competency along with certifications from the likes of BMC Cloud Lifecycle Manager and VMware's VCloud Director and Cisco's Enterprise Orchestrator. Cisco eventually aims to add key ISV requirements with possible players like SAP and Oracle.
Cisco is also mandating a Cloud Professional Services practice requirement for the cloud builders in addition to cloud management and services competency.
One of the cornerstones of the Cisco Cloud Partner program is a Cisco Cloud Professional Services practice accelerator offering that includes three modules: Cloud Program Management Accelerator, Cloud Technical Consulting Accelerator and Cloud Customer Workshop Accelerator. Each of those three cloud professional services accelerators has specific training on virtualization, cloud software, cloud readiness assessments aimed at providing intensive training for five to ten partner employees in a series of interactive training modules and mentoring.
The Cloud Professional Service offering provides partners with Cisco intellectual property, solutions methodology, tools and training modules for a cloud professional services practice, all based on the experience of Cisco's own advanced services organization.
Cisco is also "co-investing" with its partners with new channel funds to get solution providers to step up to the cloud management and services competency. Cisco has already committed to funding early pilot program partners and is setting aside co-investment funds for the next fiscal year.
The Cloud Provider track and designation provides reference architectures that an infrastructure-as-a-service provider must meet along with a strict, formal on-site audit requirements to assure that cloud providers meet ITIL IT service management requirements. The Cloud Provider designation includes inspection of a provider's service level agreements, network operations center (NOC) capabilities and reference customers. Cisco will also audit for architecture, service portal validation and cloud services point of sale functionality with links to Cisco systems. The Cloud Services Reseller designation simply requires Cisco Premier status and a valid contract with the service provider they represent.
Cisco said it aims to promote cloud builder, cloud provider and cloud services reseller status in its partner locators and to encourage preferred teaming with Cisco sales reps. Cisco said the three primary cloud program tracks include market development funds for demand generation and capacity expansion, and a cloud catcher marketing kit that includes extensive branding for partners, marketing collateral for client seminars and demand generation campaigns.
What's more, Cisco said its traditional rebate and incentives still apply for all the traditional Cisco products used to build clouds under Cisco Value Incentive Program (VIP) and incentive accelerators.
Cisco expects a number of partners to play in all three cloud segments with a good number of SMB solution providers acting as Cloud Services Resellers.
Chad Berndtson and Jennifer Hagendorf Follett contributed to this article.
For more on Cisco's vision of the cloud see CRN's exclusive interview with Chairman and CEO John Chambers.