Cisco Looks To Partners To Deliver Co-Branded Managed Services

This week at the Cisco Partner Summit in Vancouver, British Columbia, the vendor plans to showcase to partners its evolving managed service strategy, a push bolstered in November with its acquisition of MSP NetSolve, said Karl Meulema, vice president of services marketing and channels for the Customer Advocacy group at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

The development of a strong managed service offering is essential for Cisco, particularly around VoIP, said Tom Foley, CEO of Networked Information Systems, a Woburn, Mass., solution provider. Networked Information Systems had already partnered with NetSolve to offer VoIP management services prior to Cisco's purchase of the MSP, he said.

"You're providing customers with that lifeline, [sending] alerts, keeping costs down," Foley said.

Cisco is working with approximately 15 U.S. partners to develop and fine-tune the forthcoming co-branded managed service offering built on management tools acquired from NetSolve. The co-branded services model is scheduled to launch this summer, Meulema said.

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Prior to the acquisition, Cisco had already certified a handful of MSPs—including NetSolve—to offer managed services for Cisco VoIP technology. Now those MSPs are among the partners helping shape the forthcoming co-branded services, he said.

"They understand the advantage for them to not have to continue to invest in building up tools, and really use tools that are specialized around Cisco technology," he said.

The vendor plans to break its managed service offerings, which primarily focus on VoIP management, into two pieces: management, to be delivered by partners, and monitoring, provided by Cisco, he said.

"By combining the two and building a model where we provide a partner with all the tools and all the output of the tools to build a very strong management environment—plus some guidelines and some requirements around minimum service definitions that we want to make sure they adhere to—we create an environment for them where they can build out significant added value and can build out a full services offering to their end customers," Meulema said.

Meulema acknowledged that not all Cisco partners are willing or able to enter the managed service market. Nevertheless, the vendor hopes to push approximately 80 percent of its NetSolve business through a co-branded model and the remaining 20 percent through the pure resale model employed by NetSolve prior to the acquisition, he said. NetSolve, Austin, Texas, sold its services through approximately 25 partners.