Cisco Puts Its Midmarket Offensive In Full Swing

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Apart from doubling down on its Partner-Led investments, Cisco is also upping its demand generation efforts around the midmarket. Coming out of Partner Summit this year, Cisco said it will commit to driving a total of $1 billion in sales-qualified leads for midmarket partners over its next fiscal year. These leads are expected to come from both Cisco's internal sales reps and partner sales reps, but will be handed over to partners.

To meet this goal, Cisco said it plans on increasing its own marketing initiatives around the midmarket, particularly through social media platforms and co-marketing campaigns with partners. Cisco also committed to continuing promotions around some of its midmarket-focused products, including the New Account Breakaway Promotion for its Unified Compute System (UCS), which rewards partners for independently finding and driving UCS sales in new customer accounts. A new Breakaway Special Pricing campaign also is being rolled out for Cisco Unified Access customers, incenting them to upgrade the platform to Cisco's latest, BYOD-ready version.

Lastly, Cisco announced a series of product enhancements aimed at fueling its midmarket growth, including a refreshed family of its Catalyst 2960 Series Switches. The new Catalyst 2960-X Series Access Switches, Cisco said, deliver twice the bandwidth of its older siblings, along with built-in support for software-defined networks and BYOD environments. The new switches, available in July, also provide application visibility and control capabilities, and will allow partners to develop their own applications that can be tightly supported and integrated with the network.

While the Catalyst 2960 also is targeted at larger enterprise accounts, the series has found a sweet spot in the midmarket; it lacks some robust features, such as integrated wireless controllers found in some higher-end Cisco switches, but, as a result, is priced more competitively for smaller and midsize customers.

In addition, Cisco is rolling out a Managed Services Dashboard partners can use to increase the services play around Cisco's Meraki wireless networks. The Managed Services Dashboard will give partners access to configuration tools, analytics and monitoring capabilities for fully managing a customer's Meraki deployment in a Network-as-a-Service model.

Learning more about the services opportunities around Meraki was a priority for some Cisco partners heading into Partner Summit.

"I am really hoping to find out if there is a service provider play [around Meraki], from a managed services perspective," said Michael Girouard, executive vice president of sales at TekLinks, a Birmingham, Ala.- based solution provider, in a recent interview with CRN. "If this controller is in the cloud, why can't I offer wireless as a managed service?"

Cisco said the new Managed Services Dashboard will both streamline Meraki deployments, and open up new recurring revenue streams for partners. The dashboard is slated to launch sometime this month.


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