Partners: Cisco's New Professional, Co-Delivered Services Will Drive 'Highly Profitable' Cloud Adoption

Cisco Systems partners say the slew of new professional services and enhanced tools the company unveiled Tuesday will drive greater cloud adoption for the channel and enable them to build more holistic, customized services alongside the networking giant.

Solution providers can white-label or resell Cisco’s new cloud services or co-develop and co-deliver customized services with Cisco. Partners can also leverage the Cisco services team to get the training needed to eventually sell the professional services themselves.

’We’re going to integrate or combine our services elements with Cisco to really create a holistic, comprehensive view for the customers’ entire cloud journey, giving us areas where we can be highly profitable,’ said Jon Bartholomew, director of strategic IT consulting at Charlotte, N.C.-based solution provider Internetwork Engineering, ranked No. 213 on the 2016 CRN Solution Provider 500 list. ’There’s certainly an opportunity for us to also shadow some the of Cisco professional services so we can gain the knowledge and experience to be able to then take some of those service pieces on ourselves.’

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The new Cisco professional services include Cloud Acceleration, which accelerates the design and deployment of both traditional private clouds and cloud-native solutions such as OpenStack and Platform as-a-Service. In addition, the networking giant’s new IT Transformation services for DevOps focuses on DevOps-related change management initiatives that help align business processes and capabilities, according to Paul Hamilton, director of Cisco Advanced Services.

Also new is a multicloud managed and orchestration service for Cisco’s Cloud Center, as well as enhanced application and cloud migration services to automate the complexity in on-boarding and migrating applications and workloads to the cloud.

’For partners, the services are available to consume directly … to resell or white-label, really to extend their portfolio to include a broader range of cloud professional services,’ said Hamilton in an interview with CRN.

’We’ll also co-develop and co-deliver the services with our partners,’ he said. ’Some partners have offerings that Cisco really doesn’t focus on -- such as application development or business consultancy -- where a combined offering with our partners' portfolio and Cisco professional services can deliver a holistic solution.’

Kent MacDonald, vice president of business development at Calgary, Alberta- based Long View Systems, a Cisco Gold partner ranked No. 85 on the 2016 CRN SP500 list, said his company plans to do some co-developing with Cisco around the new services, which will lead to ’richer’ professional services.

’We can bring some insight and IT and our expertise that complement what Cisco is doing – we hope and trust that we will be a contributor in co-development,’ said MacDonald. ’Where we don’t have the skill, Cisco helps us get mentored in, then we can pick and choose what services we want to be enabled to delivered later on … We did the same thing when [Cisco] UCS [Unified Computing System] came out and when [VCE’s converged infrastructure solution] Vblock came out.’

Cisco, San Jose, Calif., declined to provide specifics regarding the margins partners will make selling Cisco’s new profession services. Fabio Gori, senior director and head of Cisco Cloud Marketing, said, ’Partners can become more relevant in avoiding commoditization and expanding their margin figures by a considerable amount.’

The new Cisco professional services offerings, currently available for partners to sell, were introduced in conjunction with a Cisco-sponsored study with IDC based on research conducted with executives responsible for IT decisions in more than 6,100 organizations across 31 countries that are implementing private, public and hybrid clouds in their IT environments.

According to the study, nearly 68 percent of organizations are using cloud to help drive business outcomes. However, nearly 70 percent of organizations do not have mature cloud strategy, while only 3 percent have optimized cloud strategies generating superior business outcomes, according to Cisco.

’If you’re not in this 3 percent, you should be really worried especially if you don’t have any strategy and 22 percent of companies out there don’t have a cloud strategy, which is very scary,’ said Gori. ’The 3 percent of companies are outpacing the marketplace and generating revenue faster and have the ability to provision services faster.’

To help drive greater cloud adoption for partners, Cisco rolled out an enhanced version of its popular Cisco Business Cloud Advisor (BCA) tool, which includes new data from the study. The tool allows organizations to complete a brief survey to determine their own cloud adoption level and associated business benefits relative to their industry peers by industry, company size and geography.

’We’ve executed several [BCAs] so far across various industries -- health care, manufacturing, financial and higher education -- and it does give us an opportunity to educate people on what cloud is,’ said Internetwork’s Bartholomew. ’There’s a lot of confusion out there, and rightfully so, because there’s a million different ways to slice it … being able to utilize this as a catalyst has been very beneficial for us.’

MacDonald said Long View intends to conduct more than 100 BCA assessments over the next 12 months.

’Everyone is on a quest for the cloud, but what is the right recipe for on-premise and off-premise and infrastructure – the BCA is a tool set that allows us to engage the customer and talk about the best practices leveraging insights from Cisco and IDC to help customers figure out between applications and workloads, the best places for private cloud or on-premise or off-premise, then work with customers on that road map,’ said MacDonald.

Cisco is offering a strategy workshop that combines BCA with its Domain Ten Framework. The framework helps customers plan their IT transformation by providing a strategic road map and steps to take to achieve their goals, said Cisco’s Gori.

The workshop, becoming available in the fourth quarter, aims to help organizations identify cloud adoption gaps and benchmarks, continuously improve their multicloud environments and facilitate alignment between IT and line-of-business stakeholders, according to Cisco’s Hamilton.

’This really helps our partners build their strategic consulting relationship with their end customers to truly understand how they can help their end customers transition to a multicloud world,’ said Hamilton.