With More Than 1,000 Partners On Board, Cisco's ConnectWise Partnership Shows Early Momentum

Cisco Systems' new managed service-in-a-box offering in partnership with ConnectWise is off to a lightning fast start, attracting more than 1,000 partners in the month since its introduction.

"Just in a month, we've had 1,200 partners sign up for this capability and we already have 1,000 networks that are under management, literally within 30 days," said Nirav Sheth, Cisco vice president of sales and systems engineering. "The market trend toward managed is massive."

"If the first 30 days are a litmus test, then I think we're super excited about the momentum and the net-new opportunities we're creating for our partners," Sheth said.

[Related: Cisco's Nirav Sheth On Driving Services With ConnectWise, Cultivating Born-In-The-Cloud Partners And Playing Nice With Amazon Web Services]

Cisco unveiled the ConnectWise partnership and the resulting Cisco Unite solution at its partner summit in early November. The system is a managed services software platform that combines Cisco's individual, cloud-managed Meraki, Spark, Stealthwatch and Umbrella products in a "single pane of glass" interface.

Spark is Cisco's flagship collaboration product suite. Meraki is the company's cloud-based networking solution, and is generating more than $1 billion in sales annually. Umbrella is its security platform, and Stealthwatch secures public, private and hybrid cloud environments.

"We've never been able to have a single pane of glass across different facets of our portfolio," Sheth said. "This is sort of the customers' business operating system. Managing network is awesome, and you're driving a lot of stickiness. When you start to layer on cloud security, as well as collaboration capabilities, you're essentially a one-stop shop for that business's entire capability."

Sheth said the Cisco Unite solution's sweet spot is with customers with less than 1,000 seats. Those businesses, he said, are hungry for managed solutions, but Cisco has never been able to offer one that unifies security, collaboration and cloud connectivity.

The same is true for partners, Sheth said. Many are eager to dive into life as managed service providers, but there hasn't been a way to do that with the Cisco portfolio. "Here's an easy way for them to be able to build those MSP capabilities," Sheth said.

Chris Bottger, vice president at AVI-SPL, a Tampa, Fla., solution provider that works with Cisco, said the ConnectWise solution will allow AVI-SPL to sell more managed services around customers' collaboration environments, and accelerate sales of Cisco's Spark cloud-based collaboration software.

"We've also been considering how to add more network services attached to collaboration, and this will make that ramp up quicker, potentially," Bottger said. "The real value from a partner's perspective is in driving usage and adoption and growing subscription and license usage and sales. You can only do that if you manage the whole environment."

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