Cisco's Chambers: Compete Against Us And You'll Lose

Cisco CEO John Chambers wants to make one thing clear: Competing against Cisco and its partners has been, and will always be, a losing battle.

"The message that we must give together to our competitors is, 'If you are going to compete against Cisco and its ecosystem, you are going to lose,'" Chambers told partners Tuesday at Cisco's 17th annual Partner Summit in Boston. "And history is littered with companies big and small that have learned this."

Admitting he would speak a lot less subtly about Cisco competitors at this year's Partner Summit than in years past, Chambers specifically called out rivals including Aruba Networks and Alcatel-Lucent, and their failed attempts at going toe-to-toe with Cisco.

[Related: Cisco Partner Summit Features Revved-Up VCE Effort ]

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"From five to 10 years ago, great companies like Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel-Ericsson -- they are a shadow of what they used to be," Chambers said.

Chambers also dismissed competitors including HP and Huawei as potential threats.

"Two years ago at this conference, we were all a bit worried, and especially the press, about HP beating us, and Huawei beating us, and Avaya [beating us]," Chambers said. "We've left them behind in market share, as well."

Chambers attributed Cisco's success to its ability to navigate market transitions and stay ahead of industry trends. Looking ahead, Chambers said he sees a number of new transitions Cisco and its partners must traverse to stay on top.

One of these transitions is the Internet of Everything, or the ability for previously unconnected objects -- including everything from cars to produce to healthcare devices -- to communicate with one another and the Internet. Chambers urged solution providers to think about the Internet of Everything as the fourth evolution of the Internet, following its introduction, the emergence of e-commerce and the rise of social media. He also urged partners to start investing in the Internet of Everything and evaluating the impact it will have on their own business and their customers'.

Mont Phelps, CEO of NWN Corp., a national Cisco partner headquartered in Waltham, Mass., said he was glad to see Chambers and Cisco focusing this year's Partner Summit on new industry trends and their impact on partners and customers, rather than just new Cisco products.

"The focus is shifting from [Cisco's] own technology and architectures to what it does for the customer," Phelps said." It's not what it is, but what it does, that’s important."

Chambers also highlighted today's shift in IT consumption models as another transition Cisco and its channel partners need to navigate this year. Namely, Chambers said, as more and more organizations move to the cloud, Cisco and partners need to put a greater emphasis on providing hosted solutions and services. This transition, however, is an especially challenging one for solution providers, requiring them, in many cases, to transform their existing business models to accommodate a services-based sale.

"We are talking about a partner ecosystem that we have to navigate through very carefully, knowing that each move we make in services, or each move we make in Internet of Everything, we have to say, 'How do we do it together?' But trust that we are going to move through this transition," Chambers told the crowd.

NEXT: How Cisco Will Help Partners Make This Transition

Edison Peres, senior vice president of Worldwide Channels at Cisco, also took the stage Tuesday to discuss ways Cisco will help partners make these business-model transitions.

First, Peres said, Cisco is offering new resources and incentives to its Cloud Services Reseller partners, or partners who don't necessarily have the bandwidth to stand up their own cloud practices, but want to resell Cisco Powered Services from other cloud providers. Moving forward, Peres said, Cloud Services Reseller partners will have access to Cisco's Value Incentive Program (VIP) rebates on sales of Cisco-Powered Services.

Peres also said Cloud Services Resellers can now tap into a Cloud Go-To-Market (GTM) Resource Center, a web-based and self-service portal providing access to all of Cisco's go-to-market tools.

"To be honest, there are still many of you sitting on the sidelines, wondering, 'Is cloud really here, is as-a-Service really important?' Don't sit on the sidelines," Peres said. "Get in the game."

Peres also said Cisco will roll out two new partner certifications that focus on business-model transformations and next-generation sales models. To nudge partners toward these certifications, Peres said Cisco will help offset the training and exam costs for the first 800 partners who sign up for the certifications.

"It's all about you being able to maximize our programs, and evolve your businesses successfully," Peres said.