Cisco Launches Microsoft-Like Voucher Program For Partners To Ramp Up DNA Sales

To ramp-up sales around Cisco's bullish Digital Network Architecture (DNA) strategy, the networking giant is giving solution providers a $7,500 voucher for DNA deals exceeding $300,000. A partner can utilize the voucher for up to five deals until the incentive program concludes in July, at the end of Cisco's current fiscal year.

"You need to be able to get the Cisco ONE feature functionalities that are in our DNA offers -- secure access, secure perimeter, secure branch – you need to be able to get those features turned on," said Cisco Channel Chief Wendy Bahr, on stage in front of thousands of partners during Cisco Partner Summit 2016 on Wednesday. "So we have quickstart vouchers for deals over $300,000 where you can earn a $7,500 voucher that you control."

Bahr said partners could use the $7,500 to offset the cost of turning on feature functionalities embedded in the Cisco ONE software inside DNA offers. The voucher program, unveiled a few weeks ago, is proving to be a big hit in the channel community, she said.

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"We've seen over $70 million dollars in DNA offer sales since we launched it just a few weeks ago at our [Global Sales Experience event]. It's wildly, wildly popular," she said.

Paul Cronin, senior vice president of strategic alliances and vendor relationships at Warwick, R.I.-based solution provider Atrion, a Carousel Industries company, who partners with Cisco and Microsoft, said the vouchers will be a "huge benefit" for his company.

"I like their focus around DNA and the transition to more of this voucher-based type approach of us going out, winning deals, taking money back so we can now invest that and make it work," said Cronin.

Cronin said the voucher program is a page out of Microsoft's book as Cisco strives to become more of a software company.

"Microsoft does vouchers. You sell an Enterprise License Agreement, and you get a voucher to be able to deploy it, optimize it, or training or whatever," he said. "Cisco's never done that before. It's a page out of Microsoft's book."

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking king unveiled DNA during its first Partner Summit in March, saying that it will change the DNA of Cisco's 70,000 channel partners.

DNA is an open, software-driven, service-centric architecture based on automation, virtualization, analytics, managed services and open APIs that is aimed at enabling digital business. The solution is delivered within the Cisco One Software family and includes applications, an array of cloud-based management services, and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) targeting the enterprise.

Additionally, DNA includes an automation platform, APIC-EM, which consists of a new version of Cisco's enterprise controller retooled for greater scale and resiliency, with a broad set of network services and device support.

Atrion's Cronin said Cisco "struck gold" with its DNA story.

"That story is really resonating with clients," said Cronin. "It's talking about business and talking about the changing dynamics of how businesses are using technology – whether it's going to the cloud or whether it's staying at home, or hosted or wherever that data is – the digital network architecture guarantees that its optimized and gives you a way to orchestrate how to move data quickly and effectively."

Prashanth Shenoy, senior director of Product & Solution Marketing, Enterprise Networking and Mobility at Cisco, said the voucher could include up to five deals per partner.

"Our partners get the $7,500 quickstart voucher to run an assessment or lifecycle advisory and help adopt a particular DNA solution, maybe as simple as automation [such as] installing APIC-EM -- working with a customer to deploy it, or do a network assessment. Once they have started running that, they get the voucher to help cover their cost to a large extent," said Shenoy, in an interview with CRN.

Cisco Partner Summit 2016 in San Francisco runs until November 3.

Jennifer Follett contributed to this story