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Making the shift to selling cloud services is a top priority for solution providers today, but it's a move that's easier said than done. It requires new training, upfront investments and, in some cases, a complete overhaul of a solution provider's existing sales model.
That's where Cisco wants to help. The networking giant used its annual Cisco Partner Summit event, taking place June 3-6 in Boston, to announce Tuesday a revamping of its Cloud Partner Program that will pump more resources and incentive opportunities behind solution providers evaluating or in the early stages of rolling out a cloud services practice.
Specifically, Cisco is wrapping new incentive offers around its Cloud Services Reseller partner designation, one of three included in Cisco's formal Cloud Partner Program launched in 2011. The Cloud Services Reseller designation is targeted at solution providers that resell Cisco Powered Services on behalf of Cisco Cloud Providers.
According to Cisco, Cloud Services Resellers -- compared to Cloud Builders and Cloud Providers, the other two partner types in the program -- targets partners that don't always have the bandwidth needed to build out their own cloud practices, or to transition their businesses to the recurring revenue models that come with selling cloud services.
Cisco, in hopes of lowering these barriers to entry and nudging more of its partners toward the cloud, is bulking up the Cloud Services Reseller program with new benefits and rewards programs. The first of these benefits, Cisco said, is receiving Cisco's Value Incentive Program (VIP) rebates on sales of Cisco-Powered Services. Cisco Powered Services include Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), hosted collaboration, and TelePresence-as-a-Service (TPaaS) and are offered at a wide range of monthly subscription prices from Cisco partners.
Gary Berzack, chief technology officer and chief operating officer for eTribeca LLC, a New York-based Cisco Premier partner, said the new VIP rebate for Cloud Services Resellers is going to require a big investment from Cisco regarding how partners "market and position these new Cisco Cloud Powered Services in parallel to what we are already doing."
"It is no small feat," said Berzack of the challenges of positioning the new Cloud Powered Services. "My question is what is the offer and price of these new Cisco Cloud powered services that will qualify for VIP and what is the exact VIP rebate?"
Berzack, for his part, would like to see Cisco VIP rebate incentives for cloud solutions around the full suite of Cisco products that companies like eTribeca uses to build out a full cloud solution over multiple years. Under that kind of scenario, a $250,000 wireless solution could be extended to $400,000 over a three-year cloud offering with a wide range of cloud services and lifecycle management, he said.
Cisco also said it's rolling out a rewards point system based on the volume Cloud Services Resellers sell. The system works by awarding points to resellers as they sell, and then letting those resellers spend those points on select Cisco products or learning credits to put toward training initiatives.
In addition, Cloud Services Resellers will now have access to Cisco Powered Branding, which they can use on their own white-label offers. The Cisco Powered brand will essentially flow down from Cisco, to the Cisco Cloud Provider, down the Cloud Services Reseller.
To curb channel conflict, Cisco stressed that both its own internal sales force and the Cloud Provider will be compensated when a Cisco Powered Services sales is made through a Cloud Services Reseller.
In order to tap into these new incentives, a Cisco Cloud Services Reseller must already be a Cisco registered partner, demonstrate a valid contract with a Cisco Cloud Provider, have a dedicated cloud customer relationship manager in-house, and apply for the partner designation online. Cisco said it currently has more than 600 Cloud Services Reseller applications in process.