Cisco Partners: Tighter Apple Partnership Will Spur Channel Growth

Apple CEO Tim Cook made a surprise appearance on stage with Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins at Cisco Live this week, as the two technology giants said a tighter relationship was ahead around cybersecurity, networking and the enterprise.

Chris Bottger, CTO at IVCi, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based solution provider and Cisco Gold and Apple partner, said a tighter bond between Apple devices and Cisco security solutions would "make for a compelling proposition for customers."

"For both companies, the partnership is a key differentiator, and they need each other to gain distinct market advantages," said Bottger. "Apple is reliant on networks to operate their products, and Cisco needs end-user devices to run its applications, such as Spark, to empower the collaboration of the mobile generation. What Tim and Chuck are telling organizations is that you can invest in Apple devices and Cisco services and know that your investment is protected and secure, and will deliver the best experience … that's great for channel partners."

[Related: The 10 Boldest Statements Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins Made At Cisco Live 2017]

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On stage in front of 28,000 customers and partners at Cisco Live in Las Vegas on Monday, Robbins said Cisco and Apple are in discussions around how the companies can integrate more around security.

"We were talking about how quickly we should integrate the security aspects of our portfolios, as soon as I mentioned to Tim that we have been working on this [Intuitive Network] … we are getting more deeply involved with some of these initiatives," said Robbins.

Kent MacDonald, vice president of business development at Long View Systems, a Calgary, Alberta-based Cisco partner, said with the accelerated growth of Apple devices in corporate networks, a deeper security partnership would enable partners to provide a more flexible secure mobile work environment.

Specifically, around security, Cook said there's a big opportunity for Cisco and Apple around selling cheaper cybersecurity insurance to the enterprise.

"If your enterprise or your company is using Cisco and Apple, the combination of these should make that insurance cost significantly less for you than it would if you were using some other personal network side and the other operating system in the mobile area," said Cook. "This is something we're going to spend some energy on because you should reap that benefit, your company should reap that benefit because you are safer."

Partners said customers would see a better return on investments as a direct result.

"We would see that a Cisco solution is a better return on an organization's investment as a direct result of not only lower costs in insurance but more importantly the reduction in costs associated with an actual security breach," said IVCi's Bottger. "For IVCi, we already have an Apple business, so the ability to sell Apple devices alongside Cisco as a total solution will allow us to grow our business further."

With Cisco devices already running on Apple's iOS through a partnership formed two years ago, Robbins said the companies are also now working on extracting more analytics and key information off Cisco's new Intuitive Network.

The San Jose, Calif-based networking giant unveiled its new networking platform last week that anticipates actions, stops security threats and continues to evolve and learn.

In a Cisco Live media conference, Robbins said: "Tim and I just spent the last couple hours together after the keynote … we built a foundation providing that we can work together creating innovation for our customers by working together on the same path – and we actually identified a few more opportunities in the last two hours alone."

MacDonald said the closer joint partnership between Cisco and Apple bodes well for the channel.

"This certainly adds some wind to the sails of IT transformation for Cisco and its partners," said MacDonald. "To have a market leader, a market innovator like Tim Cook salute Cisco so publicly tells me as a Cisco partner that Chuck and his team are making the right investments in technology and partnerships."