Cisco Comes To Beantown: 15 Scenes From Partner Summit 2013

Showtime For Cisco

Cisco hosted its 17th annual Partner Summit this week in Boston, drawing in solution providers from every corner of the globe. Attendees and Cisco channel executives were buzzing all week about the latest technology trends, the massive changes sweeping the channel today and the many opportunities that lie ahead.

In case you missed it, here are 15 scenes from this year's event.

Today, Tomorrow, Together

Bruce Klein, senior vice president, Worldwide Partner Organization at Cisco, kicked off Partner Summit by unveiling the theme of this year's show: Today, Tomorrow, Together.

Klein said this year's Partner Summit drew in more than 2,000 Cisco partners from 1,121 companies representing 93 countries. Cisco's Virtual Partner Summit, open to attendees online who couldn't make the trip to Boston, pulled in an additional 6,000 attendees, Klein said.

Full House

Cisco's opening General Session on June 4 was jam-packed with partners looking to hear the latest and greatest from Cisco channel executives.

Chambers Talks Change

Cisco CEO John Chambers took to the main stage to talk to partners about the many changes impacting their businesses today. Among them, Chambers said, is the explosion of mobility, cloud and hosted solutions, many of which require solution providers to embrace new businesses and sales models.

"Change makes most people really uncomfortable," Chambers said, adding: "And yet we are talking about a partner ecosystem that we have to navigate through very carefully, knowing that each move we make in services, or each move we make in Internet of Everything, we have to say, 'How do we do it together?' and trust each other that we are going to work through this transition."

Internet Of Everything

Chambers also stressed the impact the emerging Internet of Everything, or Internet of Things, trend will have on Cisco and its channel. As more and more devices become Internet-enabled, Cisco partners will face an opportunity to help make those connections and even wrap industry-specific services around them. Either way, Chambers told partners, get ready for the ride.

"Three to five years out, our major move will be to become the No. 1 IT player together and we will do this with partners and in conjunction," he told partners. "To do that, we believe the major transitions will be around the Internet of Things."

Chambers said Cisco estimates the Internet of Things to represent a $14.4 trillion market (with that number likely to be "very conservative"), and also expects there to be 50 billion connected devices by the year 2020.

Crushing The Competition

Chambers, off the bat, told partners he would be more vocal about Cisco competitors -- and why they'll never win -- at this year's Partner Summit vs. years past. Chambers told partners that Cisco's broad partner base and ability to navigate key market transitions will always keep it one step ahead of rivals, including HP, Avaya and Alcatel-Lucent.

"The message that we must give together to our competitors is, 'If you are going to compete against Cisco and its ecosystem, you are going to lose,'" Chambers said. "And history is littered with companies big and small that have learned this."

The Power Of Partnerships

Cisco's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels Edison Peres exchanged a high-five with Cisco's Bruce Klein during the opening day General Session.

Peres spoke to partners about the importance of embracing change, and driving their businesses toward a more cloud- and services-based model.

"To be honest, there are still many of you sitting on the sidelines, wondering 'Is cloud really here, is as-a-Service really important?' Don't sit on the sidelines," Peres said. "Get in the game."

Attacking The Midmarket

Along with the Internet of Things, services and cloud, the midmarket was another key area of focus at this year's Partner Summit.

Cisco's Bruce Klein said the networking giant plans to pump $150 million into its midmarket-focused Partner-Led strategy over the next 12 months, a figure that's double the $75 million it invested in the initiative last year. Klein also said Cisco will commit to driving a total of $1 billion in sales-qualified leads for midmarket partners over its next fiscal year.

Moving To The Cloud

Cisco unveiled a revamped Cloud Services Reseller program at this year's Partner Summit, adding new resources and incentive opportunities for partners reselling Cisco Powered services on behalf of Cisco Cloud Providers.

Steve Benvenuto (far left), senior director of Global Partner Programs at Cisco, sat down with Cisco cloud partners to discuss some of the business transitions and challenges of moving to the cloud. The partners, from left to right, include Paul Hoffman, senior director, Cloud and Technology Solutions at Ingram Micro; Matthieu Arnould, vice president of partnerships at Orange Business Services; Carlos Mauricio Oyola, CEO of CiberCall; and Gregg Pruett, senior vice president at CompuNet.

Work And Play

Cisco hosted its Americas Evening Event for it Americas partners at Boston's Club Royale on Tremont Street. Partners chatted throughout the night, as a cover band played.

Separate events also were hosted for Cisco's EMEAR and APJC partners.

All Smiles

Chuck Robbins, senior vice president, Worldwide Field Operations at Cisco, smiled for the camera with the CRN team, including Associate Editors Lisa Barry (far left) and Kristin Bent (second in from left), along with Executive Editor, Online Jennifer Follett (far right).

Services In The Spotlight

Edzard Overbeek, senior vice president for Cisco Services, talked through new services opportunities for partners during the second General Session of the week. Specifically, Overbeek highlighted ways partners could take advantage of new service offerings, including those related to platforms, consulting and industry-specific requirements.

"There's tremendous opportunity, I truly believe, for you and for us," Overbeek said.

Overbeek heads up the Cisco Services Partner Program (CSPP) introduced at last year's Partner Summit. He said the program today boasts 50,000 partners globally from 140 countries, with $200 million paid out in services rebates.

Cisco's Role In SDN

Rob Lloyd, president of Development and Sales at Cisco, used his time on stage to discuss the burgeoning software-defined networking (SDN) trend, and the opportunities presented to Cisco partners and through their increased network programmability. But Lloyd also stressed to partners that while SDN is real and the opportunities are potentially huge, it won't threaten the relevance of traditional networking gear as much as some industry players say it will.

"I now have 28,000 engineers that I listen to every day," Lloyd said. "And they are telling me that when you hear the conversations about SDN commoditizing networking and that it's going to kneecap Cisco and everything we stand for -- it's just not true."

Boston Strong

Throughout the week, Cisco paid tribute to the citizens of Boston, and urged attendees to remember the tragic events at this year's Boston Marathon. The networking giant also announced a donation to the Boston One Fund, and also to Boston Children's Chorus, who performed later in the week.

Going Out With A Bang

Cisco concluded its 17th annual Partner Summit with a global event at Boston's Seaport World Trade Center. The event had a Renaissance theme and highlighted local entertainment, including this performer, who you'd swear was a statue until you got up close.

From Great Heights

Cisco's global partner event was broken up by various performances from these daredevils, who could not only dance, but could do so on the side of a building. Propelling themselves down from the top of the Seaport World Trade Center, these four brave souls put on a spectacular show of aerobatics in the air.