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Cisco DevNet Specialization Fast-Tracked To Help Partners In A Post-COVID World

Cisco's new DevNet Specialization will help partners build a robust practice around software development and automation, which will be key as businesses adjust their IT environments to handle ‘the new normal,’ execs say.

If the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic taught businesses anything, it's that digital transformation is critical and can't be put on the back burner.

The COVID-19 crisis forced businesses around the globe to send their employees home to work. Any technology that may have been lacking in the IT environment --such as remote connectivity, security, and collaboration -- has had to be immediately addressed. That's why Cisco knew it had to hasten changes to its partner competency portfolio so solution providers could meet rapidly evolving customer requirements on a shorter timeline.

Cisco on Wednesday introduced a DevNet Specialization designed to help partners build out a strong practice around software development, Marc Surplus, vice president of partner strategy, planning and programs for Cisco's Global Partner Organization, told CRN.

"It feels like the future is now because of COVID-19, so we are accelerating some of the changes that we were starting to make to the program, especially around partners needing a software development practice as more solutions require automation and remote delivery," Surplus said.

[Related: Cisco SMB Portfolio Now Tackles Work From Home, Social Distancing Requirements]

The new Cisco DevNet specialization adds to the dedicated DevNet career certification track, the first-of-its kind individual career certification track from Cisco introduced last June that software developers are using to demonstrate programmability expertise and software skills, similar to Cisco's CCIE certifications for technology. The certification track, officially launched in February, includes an opportunity to earn a DevNet Associate level specialization, a DevNet Specialist level specialization and a DevNet Professional level certification.

Cisco's DevNet developer program has more than 500,000 developers around the world, m any of which are solution providers, said Susie Wee, senior vice president and general manager of DevNet and CX Ecosystem Success for Cisco.

DevNet expertise lets IT professionals pair their infrastructure capabilities with software capabilities to create a more programmable network and automated workflows, which turned out to be a huge benefit as the coronavirus pandemic hit, Wee said.

"As COVID-19 hit, the people who had mastered a lot of the programmability were able to act quicker, get their workers at home and provide dashboards to the leaders of their businesses," she said.

The new DevNet specialization will let Cisco partners differentiate the solutions they offer, while validating their ability to automate solutions and develop applications on top of Cisco platforms, Wee said.

Partners can achieve the new DevNet Specialization virtually and also renew their status virtually, according to Cisco.

Solution provider giant and Cisco Master Partner Presidio has been making a big bet on automation as business IT requirements evolve; a process that has been sped up due to the pandemic, said Brad Haas, engineering director, DevOps, for Presidio.

"With COVID-19, a lot of customers are in scenarios where they need to reduce costs and a great way to do that is to introduce automation into their environments," Haas said.

Cisco is helping partners prepare for the skills they'll need post-pandemic by refreshing its competency program and certification and specialization tracks, Haas said.

"Cisco is breathing new life into the [competency] program," Haas said. "The focus on DevNet in particular is very interesting to us and we jumped right on the certification bandwagon in February."

Haas said that Presidio is also interested in pursuing the new DevNet specialization. "The demand is there for automation and this is really an industry validation for us," he said.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco will continue to update its partner program and evolve existing competency programs with a focus on helping partners develop the skills needed to deliver new solutions and in some cases, through new consumption models, Surplus said.

"We're looking to make some of the most profound changes to our channel program, not because Cisco is saying it needs to happen, but because partners are asking for us to be much more prescriptive about the new capabilities and skill sets they will need to address the new normal in the next 2-3 years," he said.

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