Cisco Partners: InterCloud Strategy Still Fuzzy, But Peres Could Turn Things Around

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While questions around InterCloud remain, partners say the recent appointment of Cisco worldwide channel chief Edison Peres to head up the networking giant's new partner-focused cloud organization signals clarity is coming soon.

"We think it's a good sign," said David Powell, vice president of Managed and Cloud Services at TekLinks, a Birmingham, Ala.-based Cisco partner. "If partners were worried about the threat of being disintermediated or left out through a potentially a non-channel friendly approach, putting Edison in charge is a great step to eliminating those concerns."

Cisco last week said Peres, who's headed up Cisco's worldwide channel efforts for more than decade and in 2013 was named CRN's Top Channel Sales Leader of the year, is taking on a new role as senior vice president of Cloud and Managed Services.

In his new role, Peres will drive Cisco's partner recruitment and enablement efforts around InterCloud. In addition to onboarding new service providers to build out Cisco's InterCloud partner network, Peres told CRN last week that he will also dedicate time to helping existing Cisco partners transition to the cloud model and overcome the cash flow and other financial challenges that come with that shift.

Peres will report into Nick Earle, Cisco's senior vice president, Cloud Sales and Go To Market, which is a new cloud-focused unit within Cisco's broader services organization. Peres is specifically leading a subdivision of Earle's unit called the Cisco Cloud and Managed Services Organization (CMSO).

Powell said he expects Peres to apply the same level of channel advocacy in his new role, as he has for the past decade within Cisco's core partner organization.

"Almost all of the Cisco partner programs you can think of came from Edison," Powell said. "There is a track record there. You can look and say that there are many points in [Peres'] tenure where he was confronted to do either what's more partner-friendly or less partner-friendly.  At every turn, he took the more partner-friendly choice."

Kent MacDonald, vice president of Converged Infrastructure at Cisco partner Long View Systems, said when Peres personally told partners about his move at the Cisco Partner Executive Exchange forum last week, solution providers were on the "verge of a standing ovation."

"For all of us who see InterCloud as part of our future, to know that [Peres] will have the channel stewardship in that program – I think we all breathed a bit of a collective sigh, knowing that we have such strong advocate taking on that role, because there was a gap there formally, in terms of seeing the channel role within the InterCloud messaging to-date," MacDonald said.

"[Peres' move] was very much reassuring to me that InterCloud is going to be enabler and a complement to where we are going, and not what I maybe feared at first, which is challenge and conflict, even thought that hasn't been Cisco's character historically," MacDonald continued. 

"With Edison going over there, it further validates that partners are, as they always have been, a priority for Cisco."

Bob Cagnazzi, CEO of Presidio, a New York-based Cisco partner, agreed, telling CRN after Peres' move that it sends "a very strong message that InterCloud, true to Cisco's heritage, is going to be a very channel-led offering."

Edison told CRN last week that, in his new role, he will continue to work closely with Cisco's core channel organization.

"It's a lot of what I do today," Peres said of the new role. "But I am going to make a more concentrated effort in the spirit of where Cisco is trying to go."

Cisco said that Bruce Klein, senior vice president of Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization, will take over Peres' former responsibilities moving forward.

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