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In addition, Cisco is now making many of the UC capabilities that debuted in the 9.0 version of its Cisco Unified Communications Manager (UCM) this summer available through HCS, as well. Those include the use of Cisco's Jabber soft client to connect third-party devices into the Cisco UC environment and fixed-mobile convergence.
"We see this as flowing from the bottom up," said Richard McLeod, Cisco senior director, collaboration sales, worldwide partner organization. "All of the capabilities you saw relative to that 9.0 release now come full-power to the cloud."
The other key release from this week is WebEx Meetings Server -- a way to deploy the online meeting tools found in Cisco's SaaS platform WebEx in a private cloud environment. The goal there, according to Cisco, is to appeal to customers that want the features of WebEx and Cisco hosted collaboration but prefer an on-premises solution, not accessed via the public cloud. Among key features of the Meetings Server release is that it's a virtualized software platform tailored for Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) data center environments. Cisco's Smith said the Meetings Server version will help expand Cisco's WebEx total addressable market to $3.9 billion.
To backstop channel sales of its cloud-centric solutions, Cisco is letting partners brand themselves as "Cisco-powered" when it comes to selling the solutions, along with the Cisco corporate marketing collateral that goes with it. Cisco is also providing what it calls "accelerators" to Cisco account managers focused on cloud solutions sold through the channel -- part of an overall sales approach for Cisco's new fiscal year in which Cisco will provide its AMs added incentive to knock down deals in collaboration, data center, security and mobility.
"It's a pretty substantial kicker for Cisco account managers," McLeod said.
McLeod and Smith said about 15 percent to 18 percent of Cisco customers are adopting cloud-delivered collaboration and communications in some form, and Cisco expects that percentage to hit as much as 30 percent in two years.
McLeod acknowledged that not all Cisco partners will be able to stand up hosted collaboration offerings, and while some will offer it as wholesale service providers, many more will opt to resell cloud services from outlets such as distributor Ingram Micro.
It isn't necessarily a matter of size, he said, although McLeod acknowledged that existing HCS players include monster Cisco partners like CDW and CSC. Cisco partners selling HCS need to achieve the full complement of related Cisco specializations, be able to deliver Cisco validated designs and go through an audit to ensure they can support SLAs behind the "powered by Cisco" branding.