Cisco Revs Up Services Play Around Internet Of Things

Edzard Overbeek, senior vice president for Cisco Services, unveiled Cisco's road map for its services portfolio Wednesday at Cisco's 17th annual Global Partner Summit in Boston. Referring to Cisco's next-generation services portfolio as "services on steroids," Overbeek said he sees massive opportunities ahead for Cisco partners in the services space.

"There's tremendous opportunity, I truly believe, for you and for us," Overbeek said.

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Those opportunities will revolve largely, Overbeek said, around three new services offerings in which Cisco plans to invest: consulting services, platform services and industry services. Consulting services, Overbeek said, will encompass services such as general business and architectural consulting, while platform services will be targeted more at API management, configuration and compliance.

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Overbeek stressed the industry services piece as being a game-changer for Cisco and its partners. It will be aimed at helping partners build out industry-specific services practices and also at services related to the emerging Internet of Things, a major theme at this year's Partner Summit. Cisco industry services will be targeted at industries ranging from retail to financial services, Overbeek said.

"Industry services will help us do a lot of things for domain expertise in financial services, or in manufacturing, or in retail, together with you and your capabilities around that," Overbeek said.

In an interview with CRN, Overbeek said energy management will play a big role in industry services, especially given Cisco's recent acquisition of JouleX. Overbeek gave an example of partners helping companies remotely manage things like heating or cooling systems within their workspaces.

"We can now provide a much more tailored approach to energy management," Overbeek said.

Cisco sees an addressable market for industry services as big as $120 billion, Overbeek said, and also as a market where Cisco's channel will play a major role.

"You need partnerships to do this," he told CRN. "There's just not enough scale in one company."

The new industry, platform and consulting services on Cisco's road map are being positioned as an extension of Cisco Smart Services, a software-enabled suite for network monitoring, application management and other capabilities for network visibility.

The new services also will stand on the foundation of Cisco's existing technical and professional services, which are offered through Cisco Services Partner Program (CSPP) introduced last year. Overbeek said CSPP today now boasts 50,000 partners globally, from 140 countries, with $200 million paid out in services rebates.

Steven Reese, chief technology officer at Sigmanet, an Ontario, Calif.-based solution provider, said it's great to see Cisco investing so heavily in services, and turning to its channel to drive their value.

"To see where Cisco is going with a lot of this stuff is exciting," Reese said. "We're interested in how we can leverage some of Cisco's services to elevate our own service delivery models."

Reese added that he would be curious to hear more about Cisco's vision for lifecycle management services -- something that wasn't emphasized on stage this week -- down the line.

"The whole of the element is really the lifecycle management model, and that's really what we are targeting with our customers," Reese said.