Cisco, VMware Launch Joint Channel Initiative

In a move aimed at solidifying product integration, Cisco and VMware are launching a comprehensive channel initiative designed to speed up virtualized data center adoption.

The initiative provides both Cisco and VMWare channel partners holding Cisco data center certifications and authorized to resell VMWare with an array of perks that include training, financial incentives, funding for virtualization assessments, online demo labs, market enablement and financing.

The launch of the joint channel initiative further solidifies a joint effort between Cisco and VMware that created a virtualized data center platform that enables cloud computing. The platform incorporates a simplified Cisco UCS, which touts fewer components to purchase, configure, manage, maintain power and cool, along with the VMware vSphere, an operating system for building internal clouds and enabling delivery of IT as a service.

Ultimately, Cisco said that the channel partner initiative was launched in an effort to help partners accelerate and simplify the delivery of virtualized data centers, increase agility and flexibility and give customers a nudge on their path of becoming "100 percent virtualized."

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"It's important to understand, before we can talk about the program, we need to talk about enablement and technology. VMWare and Cisco have had a long technical standing relationship," said Gary Green, VMware vice president of global strategic alliances."There's a rich history of technical innovation between the two companies, and the joint partner community can accelerate that process."

Subsequently, partners will be able to help deliver and manage a new bundled offering that combines the Cisco UCS C250 with the VMware vSphere and the Cisco Nexus 100V distributed virtual software switch, beginning at the end of May.

As part of the channel iniatiative, U.S.-based and Canadian Cisco DCNI specialized channel partners will be eligible to be reimbursed for pre-approved Cisco and VMware virtualization assessments.

Worldwide channel partners will also have joint access to Cisco Unified Computing System and VMware vSphere online training at no cost, while Cisco channel partners will be able to sell VMware vSphere with no additional VMware certification.

Next: Financing For VMware vSphere Solutions In The Offing

The new Cisco UCS demo equipment program, which provides discounts for the Cisco UCS and VMware vSphere offerings, will be available some time in April for U.S.-based channel partners. The discount will be expanded globally by the end of May. Meanwhile, partners can access Cisco financing, which is currently available when purchasing Cisco UCS with VMware vSphere solutions.

Beginning in May, partners also will have access to online demonstration labs that feature UCS and VMware vSphere solutions, in addition to regular online training.

The collaborative program also will allow both sets of channel partners to access some forms of revenue that Cisco terms "incremental revenue" in opportunities that include private cloud computing, virtualization, unified fabric and data center architectures, executives say.

The announcement aligns with Cisco's stated vision of collaboration and increased investment in architecture solutions -- a message which the company repeatedly reinforced throughout the entirety of the conference.

And channel partners contend that the combined offering allows them to help their customers take advantage of current trends toward data center virtualization, especially in the weak economy as end users find ways to cut costs, reduce complexity and consolidate technologies.

"We view the heart of IT in the data center," said Chris Swahn, vice president and general manager of Cisco Solutions for Avnet, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based distributor. "(The joint channel initiative) fits very nicely into Avnet's core capabilities or core understanding of how to move the data center forward."