15 Scenes From Cisco Partner Summit You Need To See

Sights And Sounds From San Diego

What do yellow socks, morning mimosas, surfboards and channel chief Wendy Bahr's grandparents have to do with last week's Cisco 2016 Partner Summit in San Diego? You'll have to read on to find out.

More than 2,200 Cisco channel partners flocked to the summit, held this year at the San Diego Convention Center, to hear Cisco's top executives talk about the company's future. The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant unveiled an abundance of new solutions, road maps and overall goals on stage and in meetings at the annual gathering, but behind the scenes and off to the side, CRN also picked up on some other sights and sounds most partners won't forget.

Here are 15 images captured during the event that might bring back some fond memories of Cisco Partner Summit 2016.

The New CEO Can Dance, Rap And Sing

Partners who've attended Cisco Partner Summits over the years have seen new CEO Chuck Robbins doing some epic singing and dancing.

Before inviting Robbins up to the main stage for his keynote address, channel chief Wendy Bahr took a moment to reflect on Robbins' previous performances. When Robbins took the stage moments later, he joked, "I want you all to enjoy Wendy's first, and perhaps final, Partner Summit presentation."

In the far left picture, Robbins said, he was rapping to the song "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang. On the far right, he was dancing in a red jumpsuit to "Let's Get It Started" by The Black Eyed Peas.

"That was right here [in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter] and my boss made me do that, seriously," said Robbins, referring to the Black Eyed Peas bit.

Morning Cocktails, Anyone?

On the final day of Partner Summit, after many partners had spent the night out and about at Cisco-hosted parties, Cisco offered morning cocktails to the bleary-eyed attendees walking in.

As partners walked into the main auditorium Thursday, they were greeted by waitresses and waiters holding mimosas and bloody marys. The idea was dreamed up by the keynote speaker of the day, Chris Dedicoat, executive vice president of Worldwide Sales.

"He was the genius behind the mimosas and bloody marys this morning," said Bahr, to thunderous applause.

The Americas Rocking Out

Hundreds of partners ate, drank and rocked out at the Americas regional party at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier in San Diego. The cover band played hit after hit from over the decades -- and kept changing their outfits to match.

EMEAR Hippie Fest

Cisco's crown jewel of regional parties on the night before the final day of partner summit has typically been its EMEAR (Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Russia) event, and this year seemed to be no different.

Hundreds of partners put on their best 1960s hippie outfits and took to the dance floor at the Parq Restaurant & Downtown Nightclub. The Cisco-hosted venue furnished the rainbow-colored jewelry, bandannas, peace signs and face painting.

77 Years

Bahr was ending her presentation when she put up a photo of her grandparents Ned and Rebecca Young. Ned, 96, and Rebecca, 94, have been married for 77 years. On their 75th wedding anniversary, Bahr said, she asked her grandmother how they stayed together so long.

"She said, 'You have to be adaptable,' " said Bahr. "If they can do it, I know we can do it," she said about Cisco, "because we are uniquely positioned to capture the opportunity. We have incredible break-through innovation, but most important, we have you -- the world's best partners."

Yellow Socks

Robert Soderbery, Cisco's senior vice president of enterprise products and solutions, has been known to wear colorful matching shirts and socks. Right before Soderbery was about to talk about Cisco's new Digital Network Architecture on the main stage, he took a moment to reassure partners and CEO Chuck Robbins that his signature style was intact.

"First, I just want to cover something to note. Chuck was really worried about whether it was just going to be just the shirt, or will it be the socks as well?" said Soderbery as he lifted his pant legs to show off his matching yellow socks.

Powered By Partnerships

Large images illustrating the theme of the event -- "Powered by Partnerships" -- covered the San Diego Convention Center. The theme represents Cisco's push for channel partners to begin or enhance relationships with other solution providers and ecosystem partners.

The posters depicted people working together or people and animals teaming up to accomplish a goal. Images included people harvesting crops together, a man traveling through the snow by dogsled team and a troupe of dancers.

Igloo Tents

Hundreds of partners met in the main hall to talk, grab a bite or simply hang. These large, igloo-shaped tents fit around a dozen people and were enclosed spaces for solution providers to get to know each other.

Cisco said it set up hundreds of individual and small group meetings among partners in tents like these or on couches in the main hall so they could talk and hopefully begin forming relationships.

Snacks Galore

An abundance of snacks seemed always in reach throughout the summit. A seemingly unlimited amount of candy, popcorn, fruit, nuts and soda was at hand for partners to munch and sip, and espresso and smoothie bars served up hot and cold drinks during the day.

Surfboards, Not Trophies

For Partner of the Year awards, Cisco changed it up in 2016 by giving the winning solution providers surfboards instead of trophies.

"Our real goal was to make sure when you take those surfboards back to your office, they're bigger than anybody else's award that you get in the industry," said Bahr.

Winners included Presidio, for Cloud Builder of the year; Dimension Data, the Americas partner of the year; and CDW, for Commercial partner of the year.

Jeremy Gutsche: 'Be Willing To Destroy'

Award-winning author and innovation expert Jeremy Gutsche was the guest speaker during the summit. One piece of key advice from Gutsche to channel partners was to be willing to reinvent their own businesses.

"There are clues all around you, pointing you to your next big opportunity, but you have to recognize that your own success, and your customers' own success, is what blocks them from realizing new potential," he said. "Be curious. Be insatiable. Be willing to destroy, and you'll keep on getting better and faster."

Cisco's Most Popular Slide

What arguably received the loudest applause from partners throughout the summit was when David Goeckeler, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Security Business Group, displayed this slide on the main stage during his security keynote.

Cisco reported having more than 10,800 total AMP (Advanced Malware Protection) customers and said it is now outpacing competitors FireEye and Palo Alto Networks in the space.

"This is game-changing innovation, and for anybody else selling anybody else's firewall out there, … you're going to be selling legacy technology to your customers," said Goeckeler, during his keynote after displaying numbers showing Cisco's lead over FireEye and Palo Alto Networks in AMP customers. "The best innovation and the fastest portfolios are happening right here at Cisco. … Cisco took over the No. 1 position as the security vendor in the industry."

CFO: 'Make The Bet On Cisco'

New CFO Kelly Kramer took the main stage for the first time to talk about Cisco's commitment to driving partner profitability and recurring revenue.

She said 28 percent of Cisco's revenue in both products and services is now recurring revenue. "We're just going to continue to accelerate this transformation," she said.

"We know you have choices. Make the bet on Cisco. We are going to continue to differentiate ourselves and innovate for the long term," said Kramer. "We are committed to your profitability. We will continue to find ways to make it easier to do business with us. We will keep investing and at the end of the day, the key to any partners is that win-win. If we are driving the right profitable growth, you will have profitable growth."

Be Likable, Like Richard Branson

Renowned marketing specialist and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki spoke during Cisco Marketing Velocity to hundreds of partners about keys to winning over customers.

"The turning point of great social media, marketing and great enchantment -- the ability to influence and persuade people -- is that you have to be likable," said Kawasaki.

Kawasaki told a story of how Richard Branson got down on his knees and shined Kawasaki's shoes in order to have him switch airlines to Virgin. "Richard got down. He got down on his knees and started to polish my shoes. I've never seen Steve Jobs get on his needs polishing anyone's shoes," he said. "So I started flying Virgin airlines. This is likability."

'The Death Spot'

Chris Dedicoat, executive vice president of Worldwide Sales at Cisco, was the final keynote speaker on stage at Partner Summit.

"Wow. It's the death spot," said Dedicoat, referring to being at the tail end of the event.

One of Dedicoat's main talking points was his view of Cisco becoming the most powerful security company in the world. "We're going to spend money, invest heavily to make sure we have the very best security capability of anybody in this marketplace, and together with you, we will have the most powerful security organization on the planet -- we will, and you will see us, truly as a security company," he said.