Page 3 of 3
Something that might linger a little too obtrusively at the Cisco Partner Summit is the networking titan's ongoing supply chain issue. According to numerous channel partners, Cisco has been plagued by product backorders throughout much of the past year, and while Cisco hasn't addressed the situation formally, many partners continue to wonder if it signals broader internal problems at Cisco in the midst of so much inspired vision.
"It's not exactly a well-oiled machine to begin with. They see the road ahead so well and a lot of the internal logistics are just a disaster," said one solution provider, who asked that his name not be used. "I suspect Cisco's going to hear a little bit more partner fatigue than they're used to at the Summit. Granted, with the year we all just had, maybe that's to be expected anyway."
"Calling it 'partner fatigue' is an overstatement," said Teracai's Belyea. "But there is a lot of messaging out there for those market adjacencies. I think the bigger challenge is, with all of this focus on those adjacencies, are they taking their eye off the ball operationally?"
Still, say most VARs, Cisco inspires optimism, too.
"The supply chain issue certainly isn't unique to Cisco," said Force 3's Yent. "Steps can be put in place, and I know they are putting them in place. It's good to know you can rely on them."
One Cisco partner who definitely won't be at Partner Summit is Adam Steinhoff, president and CEO of Steinhoff Consulting, a North Palm Beach, Fla.-based solution provider.
According to Steinhoff, he relies on Cisco products for the internal data center he uses for hosted solutions, but for many of his SMB customers, he's been emphasizing more cost-effective HP ProCurve gear.
That might be a discouraging message for Cisco's channel executives, who are expected to push Cisco's inroads into small business and the opportunities they present for VARs at Partner Summit.
"I don't think they ever defined SMB appropriately," Steinhoff said of Cisco. "SMB to them has always seemed to mean sub-500 nodes. In my world, 500 nodes isn't a small business. They aren't the only vendor that does that, but feel like I'm always sitting back and waiting for Cisco to announce that they understand SMB and can hit it on the head."
Any mention of HP does manage to get a rise out of his Cisco contacts, however.
"I have to admit that I brought that point to them about six months ago and if I mention HP, magic happens," Steinhoff says. "What I'd prefer is let's not jump through hoops every time. I shouldn't have to go and get a price deviation every time I need a product."