5 Questions Partners Still Have About The Groundbreaking Apple-Cisco Partnership

Questions Unanswered

Apple and Cisco on Monday announced a blockbuster partnership to more tightly integrate iPhones and iPads with Cisco enterprise collaboration products.

The blockbuster deal signifies another strategic move by Apple to make its devices more appealing to enterprise customers.

"It is in the same vein as making sure the devices that Apple is making are in sync with the application demand of a changing workplace," said Jack Narcotta, an analyst at research firm Technology Business Research.

Partners cheered the new partnership, which will optimize Cisco collaboration tools like Cisco Spark, Cisco Telepresence and Cisco WebEx on iOS devices.

However, some partners still have several unanswered questions surrounding the new partnership. Following are five concerns at the top of Apple and Cisco partners' minds.

(Cisco's John Chambers, left, and Apple's Tim Cook)

5. What Kind Of Security Will We See With This Collaboration?

In a statement, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins (pictured) said the partnership will enable mobile apps and experiences that enterprises need while meeting requirements for management and security.

On the network side, Cisco has made investments in security, announcing the full integration of its ACI software-defined networking technology with its FirePower intrusion prevention system in April.

However, during the announcement of their partnership, Apple and Cisco failed to talk about how they would integrate security features to meet these enterprise requirements.

4. What Is The Timeline Of The Product Rollout?

Rowan Trollope (pictured), senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Collaboration Technology Group, said in a Periscope conference about the partnership that Apple and Cisco have been working together for the past 10 months to develop products and services behind the partnership.

However, partners are still left in the dark about when Apple and Cisco's new tightly integrated products for the enterprise will roll out.

3. Will Cisco Have Access To Device Data?

During Trollope's Periscope session, one user asked a question that did not get addressed: whether Cisco will have access to device data, such as contacts and emails, on iPhones or iPads.

The question speaks to partner concerns about how Cisco and Apple will seamlessly collaborate between devices and the network while ensuring security for customers.

"I'm just curious how the collaboration between Cisco and iOS is going to be seamless for enterprise applications," said Rick Jordan, director of mobility sales at Tenet Computer Group, a Toronto-based Apple and Cisco partner.

2. Will There Be Future Projects With Apple?

Cisco and Apple remained mum on any future projects between the two companies could arise from the partnership.

According to Trollope, Cisco and Apple will soon begin meeting with business leaders to discuss their technology needs in order to gain a better sense of what products they will jointly develop.

Apple may discuss the partnership and other collaborations between the two companies at its Sept. 9 special event in San Francisco.

1. What Does This Partnership Mean For The Channel?

A top concern for Cisco and Apple resellers is what the new partnership will mean for both companies' channel ecosystems.

The partnership could open opportunities for partners -- particularly those who offer bring-your-own-device solutions -- by optimizing devices in the reseller channel with corporate VoIP networks. However, Apple's partnership with IBM that was announced last year, which enabled iOS apps running on iPhones and iPads to be sold to IBM customers, had some partners feeling left out of the mix.

Bob Venero, CEO of Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider Future Tech, an Apple and Cisco partner, said he hopes to hear more details. "As an enterprise VAR, I'm looking forward to somebody at Apple and Cisco reaching out to us to give us details."