Cisco Arms Security VARs

The vendor this week is rolling out a deal-registration program that rewards solution providers for closing new security business. Also on tap is a new SMB-focused security specialization. The moves come as Cisco fights to maintain share in the crowded security market.

Through its new IP Network Defender Program, an extension of its Opportunity Incentive Program for deal registration, Cisco hopes to tap its partner base to reach out to security-focused IT buyers it hasn't traditionally touched, said Edison Peres, vice president of advanced and core technologies for worldwide channels at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

"We obviously have a very good relationship with the network buyers, but our partners are the ones that actually have very good relationships with the security [operations] buyers, so this kind of program helps stimulate partners to find those opportunities in that new relationship Cisco is trying to build," he said.

The IP Network Defender Program provides discounts of up to 49 percent on security products to security-specialized partners that register and close new enterprise or SMB accounts or new business within existing accounts.

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The extra discounts should help solution providers close deals, particularly among SMB customers with limited budgets, said Dan Phoenix, vice president at Distributed Applications Technologies, a solution provider in Clifton Park, N.Y. "A lot of times you get in front of an SMB customer and say, 'Cisco,' and right off the bat, they say they can't afford it," he said.

All of Cisco's security products are eligible for the discounts, including routers bundled with security modules or software.

The program provides special leasing and financing. Also, registered deals can earn up to $9,000 worth of Learning Credits, which can be redeemed by solution providers or their customers for free Cisco-authorized security training.

Cisco's new Security VPN/Firewall Express Specialization is a new low-end option to help differentiate partners selling Cisco VPN and PIX firewalls into smaller customers. The specialization also garners partners entry into the new deal-registration program.

For the second quarter, Cisco's market-leading worldwide security appliance factory revenue share dropped more than 5 percentage points to 29.1 percent compared with the year-earlier quarter, despite revenue growth in the space of almost 33 percent. The five leading vendors all lost share for the quarter, while smaller vendors accounted for 41.1 percent, up from 27.2 percent a year ago, according to research firm IDC.