Cisco Partners Get New Tool To Drive Cloud Services Revenue

Cisco is giving its channel a free software tool that analyzes cloud usage in organizations in order to find new cloud solutions for businesses. The goal: to drive more cloud adoption and recurring revenues for partners.

"This is not Cisco selling its professional services; this is Cisco providing the intellectual property and the assets for partners to create their own professional services," said Chris Treille, director of cloud and managed services partner enablement at Cisco, in an interview with CRN. "This tool helps partners in the conversation with the customer by showing them how much they're going to gain on their top or bottom line, and how much more competitive and productive they can be with cloud."

The Cisco Business Cloud Advisor analyzes a company's cloud adoption level, peer comparison by geography, industry and company size, and cost and time-to-market improvement estimates based on cloud adoption. Partners can then offer their own services or Cisco's recently launched cloud professional service options, including Cloud-Consumption-as-a-Service, Cloud Threat Defense Service, UCS Director FastStart and solutions around Intercloud.

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"We know that our partners actually make very good money in the professional services that support cloud and hybrid IT, so this will help augment that for the channel," said Treille.

Cisco partners that already have professional services based around the public and private cloud are seeing margins of 25 percent to 35 percent, according to Treille.

Bob Hollander, vice president of sales and marketing for Netelligent, ranked No. 368 on CRN's 2015 Solution Provider 500 list, was one of the few Cisco partners to pilot the tool and said he's already seen results.

"It's helping my team go out in the market and organize the customers' thoughts, score where they are in cloud and set a direction," said Hollander. "We've already seen quantifiable opportunity come out. Now we've got a path forward with this customer versus, honestly, just three weeks ago, we didn’t."

Hollander said the tool has allowed Netelligent to uncover weaknesses and strengths for current and potential customers, as many organizations simply don't know where to go next with cloud.

"That's the top challenge to more cloud adoption: People don’t know if they already have all the good they can get from cloud, they don’t know what more can be had, and they really don’t have the context to know how far they -- and where they need to -- go next. … This really makes it real for the client," he said.

Partners can give customers a 10-question online survey to get a free, personalized report regarding the company's cloud adoption and associated business benefits. Solution providers can then bring a deeper level of analysis to organizations through the new cloud adviser tool to help measure the potential impact of cloud adoption across a broad range of key performance indicators.

"It’s really easy to dock into. If it was, 'Let's do a two-month deep dive' -- people aren't ready for that," said Hollander.

Cisco's cloud adviser tool launch was unveiled in conjunction with a global study from market researcher IDC on cloud adoption, sponsored by the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant. The report is based on primary market research conducted with executives responsible for IT decisions in 3,400 organizations across 17 counties.

The study found that 53 percent of companies expect cloud to drive increased revenue over the next two years, although only 1 percent of organizations have an "optimized" cloud strategy. A whopping 32 percent of organizations said they have no cloud strategy at all.

About 44 percent of organizations are either using or have firm plans to implement private cloud and 64 percent of cloud adopters are looking at hybrid cloud, according to the report.

Organizations are gaining an average of $1.6 million in additional revenue per application deployed on private or public cloud, while also achieving $1.2 million in cost reduction per cloud-based application, according to the study.

Cisco plans to utilize the data from the research together with its new tool to drive partner profitability, according to Fabio Gori, director of worldwide cloud marketing at Cisco.

"We made this research actionable, so we launched our new tool -- an application in the cloud -- that customers can use at no cost to really shape their cloud strategy, and we're aligning all of our data center and cloud portfolios to this logic to show how customers can actually use our portfolios to drive efficiency, speed and disruption in their business," said Gori. "Now we can start the conversation from the business outcome ... rather than just going straight forward into the details."

Cisco’s new tool and cloud initiative comes on the heels of losing its cloud leader and channel veteran Edison Peres after nearly 14 years at the company. For more than a decade, Peres served as Cisco's senior vice president of worldwide channels before he took on his current role as senior vice president of cloud and managed services in 2014 -- leading the company's Intercloud "cloud of clouds" strategy.

Cisco also recently revealed plans to reorganize its Cloud and Managed Service Organization whereby the company will evolve its cloud field operations into the broader sales organization.

Hollander said Cisco and its channel community need to continue to drive cloud sales with its customer base while also attracting new clients as the market begins to mature.

"We're well past the hype of cloud -- folks have tried cloud elements with mixed results and mixed progress," said Hollander. "It's up to [Cisco CEO] Chuck [Robbins] and the rest of the team to drive adoption. The [trajectory] is strong enough that there's no retreat."