Networking By The Bay: Scenes From The Cisco Partner Summit 2010

Cisco By The Bay

Cisco's 2010 Partner Summit brought some 1,700 partners to San Francisco (and more than 3,000 virtually) for four days of networking, in-depth Cisco vision and plenty of exchanges on supply chain, video, collaboration, UCS and how Cisco's partner program is evolving to keep up with the demands of networking, infrastructure and data center solution providers circa 2010.

Here's a look at what you missed if you weren't there or didn't take time to check it out on the Web.

Thank You, Thank You

Cisco opened the 2010 Partner Summit with a note of thanks: celebrating partners that had stuck it out with the networking titan and didn't waver in their devotion during a trying 2009.

What's That? Oh, Thanks

Onsite attendees at the Moscone Center were handed signs in various languages indicating simply "thank you," to wave during the opening salute to partners. "Spasibo" (Russian) was one of many.

Keith On Two Wheels

Introducing Keith Goodwin, Cisco's senior vice president of worldwide channels, Cisco showed a video with an animated version of Goodwin "cycling" through various world capitals and technology solutions. For Goodwin, a noted cycling enthusiast, it was only too fitting.

Write The Rules, Own The Game

Goodwin's message to partners, and the theme of the week? "Write the rules, own the game." That's not an arrogant vision, said Goodwin, but a bold one.

"It's about us writing the rules together around the significant market transitions happening as we speak," he said.

Are You Cloud Ready?

Goodwin named cloud services among several market transitions -- video, collaboration and data center being the others -- that will be especially important to Cisco partners. The most important thing to remember about each of the new transitions, Goodwin argued, is that the network is at the center.


Rob Lloyd, Cisco executive vice president of worldwide operations, used his portion of the keynote to emphasize how Cisco had tried to get partners ready during the downturn, not retrench or cut back.

"It feels like this market is about ready to accelerate," Lloyd said. "If you feel that, then by us continuing to be together we can develop huge opportunities for growth.


Keith Says Relax

Goodwin brought Edison Peres, Cisco senior vice president of worldwide channels go-to-market, onstage for a "living room chat" that had the two channel chiefs getting comfortable before issuing some strong partner news around services.

Services Specialization On the Way

Goodwin and Peres acknowledged that Cisco often doesn't do enough to bring partners in on Cisco-led deals early enough, or follow through on certain margin incentives in several of its programs. As such, the executives explained, Cisco is adding another value-incentive program, the Teaming Incentive Program (TIP), and also expanding its catalog of partner specializations to include a services specialization -- one that will enable partners to have preferred access to what Cisco calls its 500, high-touch "transformational accounts" worldwide.

Market Better

Luanne Tierney, vice president of worldwide channels marketing at Cisco, reminded partners to check out Partner Marketing Central, Cisco's recently debuted online hub of free marketing resources and social networking tools.

Burning Questions

Goodwin and Peres later joined reporters for a wide-ranging Q&A that touched on UCS, distribution, and Cisco's rivalry with HP. All week at Partner Summit, Cisco's top executives stuck to one message on the perceived HP rivalry: we're not focused on other companies.

"Competition is a great thing and makes us all better," Goodwin offered. "Our partners have a choice. Our view is very simply, how can we help them to grow with us from a top line and bottom line perspective? The partners will evolve. Are they going to have to make choices? Perhaps."

Vblocks On The Way

Cisco's Lloyd (left) joined executives from Cisco, EMC and VMware to offer an update on the three vendors' VCE coalition and on Vblock, the vendors' pre-tested, pre-configured virtualized data center package. According to Lloyd, 45 partners and six systems integrators are currently selling Vblocks, and some 200 more are in the pipeline with Vblocks about to start moving through distribution.

Left to right: Lloyd, Manjula Tareja, vice president of the virtual computing environment coalition for Cisco, and Hatem Naguib, vice president of alliances at VMware.

Thing For Strings

Daniel Bernard Roumain, known onstage as DBR, is a violinist and composer known for mixing classical music with funk, rock and hip-hop into an intense fusion. His 15-minute set to kick off Day 2 of the Partner Summit ensured that at the very least, everyone was awake by the time early keynoter Padmasree Warrior hit the stage.

Warrior Code

Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior told partners that if they align with Cisco to fully embrace the business potential of video, collaboration and virtualization, they'll see a future loaded with opportunity.

"We are completely committed to your success," she said. "No one has a crystal ball to know what's going to happen in five years, but with humble confidence, we acknowledge that if we work together, we can write the playbook."

Power Of Presence

Warrior and several Cisco engineers showed off a number of collaboration tools, including video-based messaging and telepresence, she said will be key to those who build "the next Internet" -- that which instead of merely providing colossal volumes of information, can bring to users the information most relevant to them.

Collaborate, I Say!

Cisco's Tony Bates, senior vice president and general manager for Cisco's Enterprise, Commercial and Small Business group, said Cisco is committed to keeping as many new technologies, products and services at partners' fingertips as it can. Collaboration tools -- through products like business messaging suite Quad and the Intercompany Media Engine -- will be at the forefront, Bates said.

Cisco-Tandberg Program Due In 9 Months

A big topic at the Partner Summit was Cisco's just-completed acquisition of Tandberg and how it's a bold step for Cisco toward expanding its footprint in video. According to Cisco, Cisco's and Tandberg's channel programs will run in parallel for at least the next six months, and then a combined program using "best of breed" elements from each will emerge.

From left to right: Richard McLeod, director, collaboration go-to-market at Cisco; Fredrik Halvorsen, former Tandberg CEO and now senior vice president of Cisco's TelePresence Technology Group; Charles Stucki, vice president and general manager for Cisco TelePresence; and Geir Olsen, former Tandberg president of the EMEA region and now with Cisco's TelePresence Technology Group.

Cisco's Muscle Presence In Video

Several Cisco partners, most of whom were also Tandberg partners before the acquisition, said the move brings "credibility," makes Cisco a "muscle presence" in the video conferencing space and that it would help video become more of a priority for solution providers.

From left to right: Michael Heiman, vice president of engineering for Nexus IS, Valencia, Calif.; Rob Lopez, managing director, solutions at Dimension Data, New York, N.Y. (U.S. headquarters); Tim Rubert, senior vice president of managed services at BT Conferencing, North Quincy, Mass. (U.S. headquarters); and Michael Brandofino, executive vice president of video communications and unified collaboration at AVI-SPL, Tampa, Fla.

Party Time

On the second to last night of the conference, solution providers, Cisco employees and invited guests took to the dance floor at Jillian's, down the street from the Moscone Center, for a party for U.S. and Canadian partners. It was one of five events, each specific to partners in different sales theaters, Cisco hosted that night, and both Goodwin and several other Cisco executives were seen making the rounds at each.

Have Another?

The U.S. and Canadian partner party brought an aggressive band as skilled at hip-hop and dance, as it was at pop-country and hard rock. By the time they got to Big and Rich's "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy" in the later hours, the crowd was well on it's way to polishing off the eats, bar treats and beer coolers.

How To Get Organized

Cloud computing, video and vertical-specific solutions are all driving growth in Cisco's U.S. and Canadian channel partner base, according to partners and Cisco executives.

From right to left: Wendy Bahr, Cisco vice president for U.S. and Canada channels; Denny Trevett, Cisco director of operations; and Ken Scaturro, senior vice president of global sales and business development at York Telecom, Eatontown, N.J.

Chambers Chat

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers (middle) and Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior (left) joined reporters and analysts for an hour-long discussion of a range of topics. Asked why Cisco executives were downplaying the competition with HP as opposed to last year's all-HP, all-the-time messaging, Chambers suggested HP simply wasn't a focus this year.

"We don't focus on other companies," he said. "We focus on market transitions."

At right: Gareth Pettigrew, senior manager on Cisco's Public Relations team.

Disruptive Clouds

Warrior, who leads Cisco's cloud strategy, said that Cisco takes a "pragmatic approach" to cloud and considers it a "major disruption" as a technology model. Opportunity in the service provider space is growing now, Warrior explained, and enterprise technology to support internal, private clouds is next up.

Next to Warrior, Cisco's Chambers took a quick refreshment break with the aid of his ubiquitous can of Diet Coke.

Global Award Honorees

On the final day of Cisco Partner Summit, Cisco honored 19 partners in various technology segments and sales theaters, bringing representatives from each up on stage for a victory lap.

The Difference Makers

Jason Jennings, a business researcher, author, analyst and speaker whose bestselling books include "Hit the Ground Running" and "It's Not the Big That Eat the Small, It's The Fast That Eat the Slow," took the keynote stage on the last day of Partner Summit to offer partners a compelling vision of what separates the greatest companies from excellent and good ones.

Among his points of advice, Jennings said that companies that grow, embrace change and remain relevant in the ever-changing business world have a cause, learn to "let go," make sure all of their employees know the company's strategy, makes sure everyone thinks and acts like an owner, and has leaders that see themselves not as overlords, but as stewards.

Come On, Bring It

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers told partners in his closing keynote that Cisco has become No. 1 in every market it's bought into by recognizing and capturing market transitions as they're happening.

"We're going to set a pace that we dare everybody else to keep up with," Chambers said, declaring that at Cisco, the "innovation engine is cranking."

Secret Billick

According to partners who attended it, one of the best speeches of the weekend didn't come from Chambers, Goodwin or any of the Cisco executive team, but rather from Brian Billick, the former NFL coaching great and now broadcast analyst. Billick wasn't on the official speaking roster for the Partner Summit and didn't address the main hall of attendees, but in a private session for U.S. and Canadian partners, offered lots of advice on how to think with a team-centric, "we not me" mentality.


As is Partner Summit tradition, Cisco's Keith Goodwin announced from the stage at the end of the final keynote the location of next year's Summit. Get ready to head to New Orleans, Cisco partners, for Cisco Partner Summit 2011. Dates to-be-determined.