Cisco OnPlus: Managed Network Services Through SMB VARs

Cisco's $75 million investment

The Cisco offering, which is called OnPlus, covers network assessment, network management and advisory services. Cisco VARs turn it on by plugging an OnPlus Network Agent appliance into a customer's switch or router, and then they can monitor and troubleshoot that customer's network remotely by accessing the needed information via Cisco's cloud.

OnPlus is listed at $250 for a single OnPlus Network Agent appliance and a three-year subscription to the services. VARs need to buy separate appliances and subscriptions for each customer network they intend to manage, according to Cisco.

OnPlus is being made available to North America Cisco VARs first, sold through Cisco distributors. VARs can also access native OnPlus applications for Apple iOS and Google Android mobile devices for free, and Cisco is running introductory promotions on the service for VARs, the company said.

Cisco also appears to be offering OnPlus in concert with other MSP platforms. Dan Wensley, vice president of partner development and marketing at Level Platforms, said in a statement that Level is among providers integrating with OnPlus.

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Andrew Sage, vice president of worldwide partner led for Cisco, added that managed services will become a more common revenue stream for VARs focused on smaller customers.

"A service such as OnPlus facilitates incremental revenue and helps them preserve profitability through increase efficiency and responsiveness," Sage said in a statement.

Steve Hilton, principal analyst at Analysys Mason, said OnPlus will be a win for Cisco VARs thanks to how it helps reduce their costs of support, generate additional revenue and makes them look more proactive in solving customer network problems.

"How cool is it to find a customer's network problem before they do?" said Hilton in a note to subscribers Wednesday. "How much more cool is it to fix the problem before the customer even knew he had one? Enabling a partner to find an IT problem before the customer does is the purpose of OnPlus."

Cisco in September confirmed a $75 million investment in new resources for the channel during its fiscal 2012, in the form of marketing resources, incentive programs for midmarket- and small business-focused Cisco VARs, a partner relationship management (PRM) system and access to Cisco engineers for help in closing deals and solving customer problems.

Sales to midmarket and SMB customers account for about $7 billion of Cisco's $43 billion annual revenue pie, according to Cisco's Sage.