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Top Cisco solution providers agreed that Cisco's done much in the past to clean up its strategy and be a stronger, yet simpler partner for the channel.
"Their whole motive is to be simpler to work with and make it easier to transact business," said Kent MacDonald, vice president of business development for Long View Systems, a North American solution provider and Cisco Gold partner based in Calgary. "So hats off to Cisco. Our business is growing with them. I can't say I see dramatic changes right now, but what I do see is investment in the tools needed to get the transition. We're happy."
Asif Hudani, senior vice president of IT services at Zones, a Cisco Gold partner based in Auburn, Wash., said he's seen Cisco's sales and engineering teams more proactively engaged with Zones' own teams over the past year.
"The restructuring has had no impact on their customer-facing model. I would classify it as efforts to continue to refine and refocus their resources to respond to market changes," Hudani said. "Net-net, our teams work very closely with Cisco teams to drive value and solutions to our customers."
Michael Rapp, president of En Pointe Technologies, a Gardena, Calif.-based solution provider, said En Pointe has seen a big improvement in both Cisco's overall channel engagement and the resources it's provided to grow En Pointe's networking, data center and hosted communications businesses.
En Pointe has invested significantly, for example, in Cisco's Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS) -- one of the specific product areas Cisco's Lloyd touted in his address to GSX participants. En Pointe, which is also a sizable Microsoft partner, said HCS has proven particularly appealing for contact centers with bigger customer service requirements.
"HCS is gaining a lot of momentum," Rapp said. "As the Cisco field learns of authorized partners, account mapping is gaining momentum and [HCS] deals are coming at a faster pace. A lot of customers already have a significant investment in Cisco -- making a switch to Microsoft harder to swallow. Cisco has also built programs to aggressively go after other incumbents, so this is helping gain share."
There's still more work to be done in the Cisco field level, Rapp said.
"Ideally, a more involved and influential channel at the Cisco field level would be helpful and provide a greater level of advocacy of our capabilities," he said. "This would reduce the amount of time spent communicating to the Cisco field and [allow] more time [for] delivering solutions to customers."