Cisco Channel Kingpin Peres Tapped To Fast-Track InterCloud Initiative

Cisco Systems Thursday said longtime worldwide channel chief Edison Peres has been tapped to drive partner recruitment and enablement in Cisco's fast-moving new cloud organization.

Peres, who for more than a decade has served as Cisco's senior vice president of Worldwide Channels and in 2013 was named CRN's Top Channel Sales Leader of the year, is taking on a new role as senior vice president of Cloud and Managed Services, the channel veteran told CRN Thursday.

"Part of my agenda has always been to move and help partners move into this hybrid IT business model, and you can't deliver hybrid IT experiences to end-user customers if there isn't an element of managed services and cloud," Peres said. "I feel personally excited about the ability to be able to continue that journey and to be able to support that in an even more aggressive way."

Peres' move is part of a broader organizational shake-up within Cisco aimed at driving its new InterCloud initiative. Unveiled at the networking giant's Global Partner Summit event last month, InterCloud involves a mix of public, private and hybrid clouds hosted within a network of Cisco and partner-owned data centers built on end-to-end Cisco gear.

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Cisco will be offering cloud services direct and through a network of cloud services partners. Initially, these partners include Australian service provider Telstra, Ingram Micro and Logicalis, and Cisco told CRN Thursday that additions to its InterCloud partner ecosystem will be disclosed at the Cisco Live event later this month.

Peres stressed that, while his role is changing, he will still work closely with Cisco's core partner and channel organization, which is still being headed up by Bruce Klein, senior vice president of the Worldwide Partner Organization.

"It's a lot of what I do today," Peres said of the new role. "But I am going to make a more concentrated effort in the spirit of where Cisco is trying to go."

Bob Cagnazzi, CEO of Presidio, a New York-based Cisco Gold partner and No. 26 on CRN's Solution Provider 500 list, said Peres' move to head up Cisco's cloud channel strategy sends a "pretty powerful" message to Cisco partners about the networking giant's commitment to cloud.

"The InterCloud announcement, I think, was terrific in letting us and our customers understand how Cisco was going to go after the cloud space," said Cagnazzi. "And with the announcement on Edison, it's a very strong message that InterCloud, true to Cisco's heritage, is going to be a very channel-led offering and good opportunity for partners to build solutions around Cisco's cloud strategy."

Gary Alexander, owner of Alexander Open Systems, an Overland Park, Kan.-based Cisco Gold partner and No. 120 on the CRN SP500 list, agreed that Peres' new role speaks volumes about Cisco's commitment to making InterCloud a channel play.

"This is the guy who got the rebate program VIP instituted in Cisco and that has made a huge difference to the partner community and has been instrumental in, I think, building out the most loyal channel program in the industry," Alexander said of Peres. "It's very important for us because we bought a data center company and since then have invested many dollars into our own cloud strategy, so having somebody [heading up Cisco's cloud organization] that comes out of the channel, knows how to work with the channel and wants to work with the channel, that's critical to us."

Cisco's Klein, for his part, said he will assume Peres' responsibilities as global channel chief.

"Those functions that reported to Edison before, I will be more heavily involved in those discussions," Klein said. "And I will be having more of those conversations with partners, as it relates to go-to-market, programs, distribution and transformation strategies. That's my personal commitment to our team."

Cagnazzi said having Klein step up to take over Peres' former responsibilities is a win-win; partners get the comfort of knowing Peres is heading up Cisco's cloud channel charge, while they have the "steady hand of Bruce to continue to work on the programs that Edison and the rest of his team have put into place over the years."

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Peres' move comes as Cisco rivals and cloud titans including Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Microsoft race to capture the hearts, minds and channel sales muscle of solution providers to help fuel their global cloud push.

HP, for its part, rolled out at its global partner conference last month new cloud computing specializations, training programs, and partner incentives and rebates under a new cloud-focused program dubbed HP PartnerOne for Cloud.

But, according to Peres, nobody intends to make their cloud story more partner-centric than Cisco.

"Our overall strategy of InterCloud, as announced at Partner Summit, is a partner-centric go-to-market model. It is one that is not done like a lot of the other vendors in the industry that all have their own clouds, and basically sell through their cloud," Peres said. "The InterCloud approach is not only Cisco having its own cloud environments, but also connecting them and building them with partners who also have their own [cloud environments] that are built on the architectural designs that Cisco has."

In his new role, Peres will report into Nick Earle, Cisco's senior vice president, Cloud Sales and Go To Market. Earle, who was previously senior vice president of Cisco's Worldwide Services Operations, was tapped to lead the new organization last month.

In addition to Peres' division, Earle's organization will also host a unit focused on the service provider market, and another focused on the commercial market and enabling Cisco's own field team to go to market with InterCloud.

Peres is specifically leading a subdivision within Earle's organization called the Cisco Cloud and Managed Services Organization (CMSO), which he said is dedicated to enabling Cisco channel partners to sell and grow managed and cloud services offerings, including InterCloud.

Peres said his new role will involve both recruiting new partners to go to market with InterCloud, in addition to helping existing Cisco partners transition to the cloud model while overcoming the cash flow or financial challenges often associated with that shift.

"Part of my enablement [efforts] will be the programmatic element and the overall economic element," Peres said.

In addition to the Cloud Sales and Go To Market organization being headed up by Earle, Cisco is establishing a new Cloud Orchestration division, being led by Dr. Gee Rittenhouse, the former president of Bell Labs, and a new Cloud Infrastructure and Services Delivery organization, being led by Faiyaz Shahpurwala, whose previous role at Cisco was senior vice president, Cloud Infrastructure and Managed Services.

Peres said Cisco has transitioned 500 employees into just Earle's organization alone.

"Normally, we would create a global team and work with the local teams. But because of the need to move with speed -- we call it 'cloud speed' -- we really wanted to ensure that the company builds a dedicated group, down to the country level, to be able to implement this strategy," Peres said. "So it's a little bit different, but is all in the spirit of moving fast and moving in an agile, flexible way to make sure Cisco is successful in this cloud game."