Partners And Priorities: Cisco's Channel Chief Talks Exclusively To CRN


CRN: Talk about the midmarket strategy. Cisco recently acquired Meraki, which is expected to be a big part of that.

Klein: We can't talk a lot about Meraki yet, but within our Partner-Led space, we're driving and executing the Partner Plus program, a series of incentives and customer intelligence [offers] to help our partners go after this midmarket space. We've also had our territory managers begin to jointly look at sales funnels with our partner sales teams to better manage the life cycle of a lead, and we're also doing a lot more with marketing to provide leads to our partners.

This is a really comprehensive program we'll be executing throughout FY13. Within that are solutions. Meraki has a midmarket solution. Our collaboration unit has a totally focused midmarket solution. Our Borderless Networks businesses have a totally focused midmarket solution. There is a big overall opportunity to significantly grow our midmarket business.

CRN: On the competitive front, has the mix of competitors changed at all, particularly in the past year?

Klein: No, it's pretty much the same people you've heard -- the same names. Sometimes we do see one getting more aggressive but with Cisco in so many different areas there are a lot of the same names.

CRN: Fiscal cliff has dominated the public sector discussion but what about specific spending priorities? What's the climate like in public sector?

Klein:On the SLED side, we're seeing pretty strong growth, actually, especially as they make market transitions like wireless and mobility. On the fed side, there is [continued contract spending] until March, so there's not this huge budget crunch yet. Opportunities spending in some of the bigger programs has slowed, but the current contracts are still there and a lot's going to depend on what we see for compromise in January and what's going to happen to the budget. But the fed partners and the SLED partners are not seeing a dramatic business decline.

CRN: Is a lot of the priority for these customers still around consolidation and efficiency technologies like VDI?

Klein:On the federal side, yes. That's what's great about what we offer with partners because a lot of what we do helps them consolidate networks and look at these opportunities. A lot of agencies are thinking about cloud and doing that. The data center change is big because the government agencies have a big installed base of competitive products, and we're starting to make huge traction with Nexus and UCS. That's an untapped area to grow the business.

CRN: You'd call it a lot more competitive wins for Cisco in public sector data center deals?

Klein:Yes, absolutely.

NEXT: Cisco Partner Consolidation, Klein's WWPO Team