Cisco Rolls Out Partner Program For Managed Services


Cisco Systems Wednesday launched a new channel program designed for partners building managed services on its technology.

The new Cisco Managed Services Channel Program was built to meet the specific needs of MSPs, which differ from partners that are reselling products, said Surinder Brar, senior director of worldwide channel strategy and programs at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

"Our partner program is not geared toward the type of partner but the offer they're making," Brar said.

For example, a typical resale partner is regional in nature but MSPs are often global in reach. "Our resale program tends to be local: you need four CCIEs (Cisco Internetwork Certified Experts) in every region. Here we want them in a central NOC," Brar said.

MSPs also need to set costs on equipment to correctly price their services, so the program offers predictable, upfront pricing. That differs from Cisco's resale program which rewards partners with back-end Value Incentive Program (VIP) rebates for meeting sales growth and customer satisfaction targets.

Analysts have pegged the managed services space as an $18 billion market in 2007 and expect it to climb to $42 billion by 2011. Cisco estimates that its technology is used to deliver $4 billion in managed services.

Cisco has had a pilot of the program for over a year, testing it with a dozen channel partners and service providers.

"The big thing we like is that it takes advantage of the remote managed services business we've already established and validated in the market," said Pat Scheckel, vice president at CDW Berbee, Madison, Wisc., a Cisco partner that participated in the pilot program. "From a routing/switching and security perspective, it's reasonably attractive and something we can use as a competitive differentiator."

Partners testing the program have encountered pricing difficulty, as some products are available at better prices under different Cisco programs, but Cisco is working to address the inconsistencies, Scheckel said.

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