Cisco and Microsoft -- two tech giants who have long competed on a number of fronts -- said this week they will continue to invest in a joint channel program aimed at helping both of their partner communities go to market with integrated Microsoft and Cisco solutions.
The program, which has been running in pilot mode for the past 10 months, is primarily targeted at Cisco and Microsoft partners in the data center and cloud markets. The idea, according to Brian Allison, director of Partner Solutions, Worldwide Channels at Cisco, is to drive more collaboration between Cisco and Microsoft partners, and to provide more training resources, for both partner communities, on bundled Cisco-Microsoft solutions, such as Cisco's Unified Data Center architecture with Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V and System Center 2012.
Allison, who said the pilot includes a "hand-picked" group of Cisco and Microsoft partners, has been successful in driving collaboration not only between the Microsoft and Cisco practices partners often have within a single shop, but also in driving partner-to-partner connections, meaning those between different solution provider organizations.
"Sometimes -- and this is a big thing that we are seeing -- it's not all under one roof," Allison told CRN. "We are seeing more and more partner-to-partner activity, and that's one of the things I get really excited about. What Cisco and Microsoft can really uniquely drive is the partner-to-partner aspect of this."
Allison said the first step Cisco takes in helping drive collaboration between Microsoft and Cisco solution providers -- whether they're inside the same organization or not -- is to stress the value proposition that integrated Microsoft-Cisco data center solutions can deliver to end clients.
"Getting these practices -- a Microsoft practice and a Cisco practice -- to work together, even if they are under the same roof, it takes some time," Allison said. "In many ways, like the transitions we are navigating with customers, our partners sometimes need to go through that same transition in terms of breaking down silos and getting their functional organizations to work in order to deliver the most compelling value proposition to the customer."
Some of the integrated Microsoft-Cisco solutions partners can take to market today include Cisco's FlexPod with Microsoft Private Cloud, or a reference architecture integrating Cisco server and networking, NetApp storage and Microsoft's Windows Server 2012 Hyper V. Cisco also mentioned its Nexus 1000V Switch for Windows Server Hyper-V, and EMC's VSPEX with Microsoft Private Cloud, as examples.
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