You can't argue with Cisco's Unified Communications (UC) and telephony dominance: The vendor went from a telephony nobody back at the turn of the century to the segment's biggest, boldest player, and in 2011, it finds itself in a back-and-forth battle with Avaya for worldwide market share.
Cisco's ARC scores for UC tell the story of a vendor offering broad channel support for its products, channel support and partner program, with products that earn especially high marks. With its UC products, it has launched an all-systems-go attack on the space that includes everything from telepresence and video to mobile devices, including its recently released Android tablet, the Cius.
Cius became available for Cisco Master and Advanced Unified Communications partners in late March. Its appeal for Cisco solution providers, according to Cisco, is that it cuts across all of Cisco's major business architectures and lets partners pinpoint network upgrade opportunities to run data, voice and video more effectively. Part-and-parcel with Cius is Cisco's AppHQ, an app development platform that will allow companies tighter control over the applications their Cius users have access to.
"The hope is to have apps living there that leverage Cius integration with UC," said Richard McLeod, senior director, collaboration sales in Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization. "You've taken those apps you're comfortable with, and they're tightly integrated with your business process. That's where the real power of a Cisco VAR steps in."
Cisco's growth in UC and telephony comes amid an otherwise trying year for the company, whose corporate restructuring has eliminated more than 12,000 jobs and rejiggered its global sales theaters. But Cisco has also emerged, according to many Cisco partners, as an easier, simpler vendor with which to do channel business.
"First off, acknowledgment that there needed to be change is a great start," said Andy Cadwell, senior vice president of sales for INX, a Dallas-based Cisco Gold partner. "Cisco's feeling like a much more nimble organization these days."