Cisco Set To Launch Data And Analytics Channel Program, Calling It A 'Rich' Opportunity For Partners

As part of its new Software Partner Program, Cisco revealed that there will be specific roles partners can play around data and analytics to drive new growth as the networking giant pushes the channel to create new offerings surrounding the Internet of Things opportunities becoming available in the market.

"Data and analytics is such a huge space that there's lots of opportunity for partners to make many different vendor solutions come together for customers," said Mike Flannagan, vice president and general manager for Cisco's Data and Analytics Group, in an interview with CRN. "Analytics isn’t just about throwing some data against the wall and figuring it out. It's about really understanding the business problem they're trying to solve and giving the data and analytics some context. Our partners have the customer relationships and business knowledge to provide some real insight that’s going to be useful and a rich partner opportunity."

The software program will provider partners with enablement resources, incentives rewards around data and analytics offers expected to be rolled out in 2016. Cisco said partners currently have access to training and workshops to build and develop expertise across its data and analytics portfolio.

[Related: Cisco's Internet Of Things Push: New IoT Solutions, Technology Partnerships]

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Mala Anand, senior vice president of Cisco's Services Platforms Group, said the company is seeking "next-generation" systems integrators to join the program as well as solution providers that specialize in data science services.

"Traditionally, Cisco has had a whole lot of resellers from an infrastructure perspective, but obviously now in the space of software and specifically for analytics, there's a new set of partners that will emerge," said Anand in an interview with CRN. "We're looking to partner with companies that have deep vertical expertise in data and decision science and data scientists that can go very deep once we analyze the data."

In CEO Chuck Robbins' keynote Monday at Cisco's Global Editors Conference at the company's San Jose, Calif., headquarters, he said Cisco would heavily invest in big data and analytics to create business solutions based around the Internet of Things. Out of the $19 trillion opportunity that Cisco believes IoT will bring globally, $7.3 trillion is expected to come from analytics.

"We're going to double down on the infrastructure analytics and deliver these insights that no one else can deliver to our customers in real time, both at the network edges as well as where you have all your business applications running, which is in the data center," said Soni Jiandani, senior vice president of the Insieme Business Unit at Cisco, at the conference Tuesday.

Partners said they are excited about the data and analytics push and that customers are asking for more IoT solutions for their businesses.

"Mobility customers especially are asking for more analytics," said Chris Bottger, senior vice president of collaboration services at IVCi, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner, ranked No. 226 on the CRN 2015 SP500. "A lot of that is driving the decision as to what to offload to the cloud and what to keep on premise. … The value that the partner brings is interpreting the analytics and relating it back to allowing the customers to make decisions based on those analytics. Analytics just for the sake of it has no value if a customer doesn’t know what to do with it."

Cisco launched several solutions around IoT this week, including IoT System Security, which contains advanced security analytics capacities.

In June, the networking giant introduced a new program for application developers as part of its Intercloud strategy that included 35 ISVs who will focus on big data and analytics and IoT cloud services. And in December, the company unveiled the Cisco Connected Analytics solution aimed at helping customers use data from IoT to improve business operations by embedding analytics technology into its networking equipment.

Cisco also has a partnership with IT monitoring and analytics specialist Zenoss, where the Austin, Texas-based company is an OEM vendor for Cisco UCS.