CRN Exclusive: 'Clarity' Comes To Cisco's Cloud Strategy With New Hybrid Cloud Blueprint For Partners

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In one of its biggest cloud initiatives this year, Cisco unveiled a new go-to-market strategy aimed at clarifying how the channel should approach and sell hybrid cloud.  Partners said Cisco's new Hybrid Cloud Sales Play brings a much-needed guide for the networking giant's overall cloud strategy through new incentives, tools and product bundles.

"We've all been struggling with, 'What is our play in the cloud space?' We know it isn't building out or owning data centers to try to drive consumption," said Jon Groves, CEO of Alexander Operating Systems (AOS), an Overland Park, Kan.-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner. 

"It's really the multi-cloud solutions that are the blueprint for the channel and what we've needed to really accelerate our cloud adoption practices and increase our value exchange with not only Cisco, but also the cloud providers. With this new approach, you're going to see the Cisco channel finally get some clarity as to how to approach the cloud from a Cisco reseller perspective."

In an interview with CRN, the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant unveiled its new five-step Hybrid Cloud Sales Play touted as the blueprint for partner success and profitability, according to Scott Mohr, director of data center and cloud for Cisco's Global Partner Organization.

[Related: 8 New Cisco Cloud Incentives, Tools And Bundles That Partners Need To Know]

The first two steps in the guide discuss new partner training, enablement and identifying opportunities. Cisco is providing partners its Business Cloud Advisor tool for free to help generate more cloud demand and consumption. The software analyzes an organization's cloud adoption level and associated business benefits in moving to the cloud relative to industry peers, as well as cost and time-to-market improvement estimates based on adoption.

"The tool is not just about plotting where the customer is in their cloud journey and making recommendations, but partners gain executive access. The tool also reveals who you need to talk to and why you need to talk to them," said Mohr.

Additionally, Cisco is launching Cloud Automation Strategy Workshops around the advisor tool along with details on how to drive cloud adoption for the channel. "We're going to train partners on how to deliver cloud advisor workshops to their customers on their own," said Mohr.

Hassan Kassih, director of data center solutions at ConvergeOne, an Eagan, Minn.-based solution provider and Cisco partner, has been piloting workshops for the past few months. He said the workshops have resulted in positive growth for his company and helped drive new professional services sales.  

"As we look to help our customers transition to cloud and build hybrid cloud environments, the workshop methodology helps strengthen executive relationships with our clients, locate capability gaps in our customer cloud environments, and provide a blueprint for us to engage customers on their cloud journeys," said Kassih.

The network leader is also offering up its engineers and sales teams to partners to help map out the next cloud move for customers. Mohr said the vendor could provide recommendations for multi-cloud management and advice on how partners can leverage Cisco technology acquired this year through AppDynamics for application performance management as well as its new Workload Optimization Manager developed with Turbonomic.

"All of this is about driving applications and being able to help provide better utilization of their applications – scalable, available, secure," said Mohr.

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