Partners: Simpler Cisco Will Be A Better Cisco


Top Cisco partners think Cisco will emerge from its restructuring a simpler company -- one that's a lot easier to do channel business with, even if Cisco still needs to hammer out the details of its "partner-led" strategy in a way that makes more sense to its solution providers.

Dave Elsner, vice president of sales and marketing for Nexus Integration Services, a Valencia, Calif.-based solution provider and longtime Cisco Gold partner, said he welcomes Cisco returning its focus to the core networking solutions on which its top partners drive sales.

"They built this phenomenal LAN/WAN network, and started overlaying all of these things and probably got too diversified and too thick," Elsner said. "It's good for the partner, because when they're not in the consumer markets, when they're not in things like Flip video, that puts the attention back on the growth of what's important to me."

Elsner was among several top Cisco partners interviewed by CRN from Cisco Live in Las Vegas this week, where Cisco on several occasions spoke about its corporate restructuring efforts.

Chairman and CEO John Chambers, CTO Padmasree Warrior and other executives spoke in keynotes and in more intimate sessions with reporters about how changes to Cisco's corporate structure will mean faster time to decisions and less bureaucracy. Both were points also made by Cisco's Rob Lloyd, executive vice president, worldwide operations, in an exclusive interview with CRN this month.

For some of Cisco's key partners, those efforts are already showing returns.

Jere Brown, CEO of the Americas for South Africa-based integrator giant Dimension Data, said that one of the problems he'd had with Cisco previously was that with different regional sales managers, it was difficult to drive consistency with Dimension Data-led Cisco sales in various Americas regions.

"To have the kinds of resources needed to support our go-to-market effort, we had to deal with multiple leaders across multiple parts of the Cisco organization," Brown said. "That became even more complex when we were talking about global solutions. You had to go through so many levels of the organization to get someone to make a decision."

Now that Cisco's Americas sales theater is organized under one person -- Chuck Robbins, newly Cisco's senior vice president, Americas -- that effort should be streamlined, Brown said.

"Parochially, with it lining up to Chuck, a guy who understands both the channel and the direct business and the services, it's a great thing," Brown said. "I'd been asking Cisco for long time to have consistent Cisco resources up and down the Americas. It also aligns pretty nicely to the Dimension Data theaters around the world. It's going to simplify how we interface and engage with Cisco around the globe."

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