The Big Easy: 20 Fat Scenes From Cisco Partner Summit 2011

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler

Just in time to catch a bit of the Mardi Gras ramp-up, Cisco Systems drew 2,000 solution providers to its annual Cisco Partner Summit, held in New Orleans from February 28 to March 3, 2011. The company used the conference as a platform to launch a new cloud computing channel program and partner enablement offerings around professional services, and also presented a wide sampling of some of NOLA’s finest culture, including the Soul Rebels Brass Band (pictured). Let the good times roll.

Go Marching In

Edison Peres, Cisco’s senior vice president of worldwide channels, gets some stage time with the Soul Rebels Brass Band, who led partners in a processional to start the morning.

Away We Go

Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers (left) and Peres gear up for the start of Partner Summit ahead of their keynote sessions.

Meet And Greet

Chambers greeted folks sitting in the front rows, including Chuck Daniels (left), CEO of Newark, N.J.-based solution provider BITS. BITS, which was founded in 2005 to build out a business based on Cisco’s unified communications product set, is now a $12 million company focused on community banks.

What's Fair Is Fair

Senior Vice President, Worldwide Partner Organization, Keith Goodwin told partners that Cisco is focusing on the SMB space. ’It’s a large market that’s growing quickly, and quite frankly we are not getting our fair share,’ he said. Cisco does over $1.5 billion in global sales to the small business market alone and says it has market share of roughly 20 percent in the overall SMB market.

Peres Hearts Partners

Cisco’s Peres roused partners by imploring them to be passionate about their Cisco partnerships. ’We love to work with you, so if we can help drive your business to where you love to work with us, we want to do that.’

Mardi Gras Magic

Peres, who was born in New Orleans, gets into the spirit of the holiday by donning a Mardi Gras mask.

The Architect

Chambers hammered home his message that solution providers need to buy into Cisco’s network architecture story. "What customers are asking is how do you make technology relevant," said Chambers. "How do you future proof as much as possible how it is going to evolve in the data center with switches, routers, wireless, mobility, video, etc. The more effective we are as a company at going to market through our partners, and not competing with our partners, as many of our peers are, more and more of the growth and more and more of the profits will be tied to architecture.’


Take A Seat

Chambers gets a different perspective during his address by taking a seat among the solution providers in the audience.

Reign Of The Soul Queen

Irma Thomas, the Soul Queen of New Orleans, roused the audience with a rendition of the classic ’Time Is On My Side,’ which she first recorded in 1964.

King's Court

Performance painter Frenchy, known around these parts as the King of Oak Street, shared the stage with Irma Thomas and created a painting to commemorate the performance. The artwork was later auctioned off to benefit the St. Bernard Project, raising $52,000 for the charity, which provides housing for survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

Warrior Pose

Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior told solution providers that focusing on Cisco’s business architecture approach can lead to increased profitability. She also talked about the changes workers will see as cloud computing, collaboration and mobility all come together. ’In the future we will not go to work, we will simply do work,’ she said.

Certain About Cloud

Michael Capellas, chairman and CEO of VCE told solution providers that cloud computing is a sure thing. ’Consumers have already adopted cloud computing. Chances of success: 100 percent,’ he said.

Everyone's Favorite Grandpa

Grandpa Elliott (seated), a fixture and a favorite in the New Orleans street musician scene, performed his famous rendition of ’Stand By Me’on the closing day of Partner Summit, along with several other local jazzers. Elliott was a YouTube sensation after being featured in Playing For Change a documentary project that seeks to record local musicians around the world.

The Case Against Commoditization

Rob Lloyd, executive vice president of worldwide operations, closed out the conference by urging solution providers to just say ’no’ to commodity competitors. "When my competition asks you to join them in commoditizing the network business, they are not asking you to commoditize Cisco, they are asking you to commoditize your own business," said Lloyd . "When my competition comes to you and says, 'I'll give you some of my server business if you'll join me in inserting my technology as a commodity into a Cisco account' just tell them, 'no' because they are asking you to commoditize your business," he said to thunderous applause from several thousand Cisco partners.

CRN Loves A Parade

Mardi Gras celebrations were already underway during the week of Partner Summit, including parades by several New Orleans krewes.

2 Live Krewe

CRN’s Steve Burke (left) poses with a krewe member on Canal Street after the conclusion of a Mardi Gras parade.

Tooting His Own Horn

Jazz trumpeter Jeremy Davenport (left) performs with his band at the House Of Blues during Cisco’s closing party.

Dancing The Night Away

Darryl ’Dancing Man 504’ Young (right) performs at the House Of Blues during Cisco’s closing party.

Taking It To The Streets

Jazz performers take it outside to Decatur Street as the party winds down, sending Cisco Partner Summit revelers out into the night to enjoy the rest of the city