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Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers Tuesday urged solution providers to take the network business architecture high ground in the battle against competitors attempting to "commoditize" the network.
In a keynote address kicking off Cisco's partner summit in New Orleans, Chambers said it will be partners that sell business architectures that thrive in the future rather than those selling point networking products like routers/switches.
In a brief interview following the keynote, Chambers said partners selling point networking products will "still be able to make money," but not nearly as much as they would by selling architectures "that make a difference in customer's lives."
"What customers are asking is how do you make technology relevant," said Chambers. "How do you future proof as much as possible how it (technology) is going to evolve in the data center with switches, routers, wireless, mobility, video, etc. The more effective we are as a company at going to market through our partners, and not competing with our partners, as many of our peers are, more and more of the growth and more and more of the profits will be tied to architecture and the ability to take technology and apply it to business propositions or challenges.
"What we have always done better than any other company in the world is we go not only through market with our partners, we focus on their growth, their profitability and we transition to new markets together," he said. "These transitions are coming to us at a tremendous speed and scale. What the partner conference is about is to bring that to life. I think you will always see us rated as the top partnering company in the world."
Chambers, however, conceded that Cisco now faces competitors coming "at us in ways they haven't before."
"If you are in a market where you haven’t gotten a lot of big competitors you are probably in the wrong market," he said. That reference to the competition comes with Cisco's core routing and switching business under attack from competitors like HP, whose enterprise switching and routing revenue grew 30 percent in the most recent quarter.
Cisco's switching sales, meanwhile, in the most recent quarter were down four percent compared with the year ago quarter, while routing revenue was up four percent. Cisco is fighting back by urging partners to take the high margin ground with specific Cisco business architectures powered by a new massive Cisco-powered professional services partner enablement effort. This comes as Cisco competitors like HP, which has its own $36 billion services organizations, are investing heavily in their own professional services organizations that often compete with partners.
Next: Chambers' Partner Services Profit Pledge