5 Cisco Channel Initiatives Launched Around New Meeting Server Product

The New Cisco Meeting Server

Cisco is launching several initiatives for its channel community to drive adoption and sales around the new Cisco Meeting Server, including discounted migration offers, competitive trade-ins and a simplified licensing model.

"We've put together some very attractive incentives in place as well as the simplification of how partners order," said Gary Wolfson, head of Cisco's Global Collaboration Partner Organization, in an interview with CRN.

The San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant is striving to take its fast-growing collaboration portfolio to a new level with Cisco Meeting Server through game-changing interoperability capabilities with Microsoft and "unprecedented" scalability, said Wolfson. Here are five partner initiatives built to drive new revenue with Cisco Meeting Server.

Discounted Migration Offers

Cisco has created dedicated SKUs specifically focused on Cisco Meeting Server migration.

"Partners can take the migration SKUs, order those, and they get a special discount depending on the partner's status with us," said Cisco's Wolfson. "But we want to basically give them a ’one-click' so they can go and select the product in [Cisco Meeting Server] to migrate their customers at a healthy discount."

Simplified Licensing

Cisco created a simplified licensing model to deploy personal and room-based video systems.

"We've basically created a single license now for meetings. So no longer does the partner ... put together a bunch of SKUs and figure out different license levels – it's a single license now for the meeting experience," said Wolfson. "We think that's a great benefit for channel partners."

Customers can also consume Cisco Meeting Server in a user-based licensing model in which companies can buy services up front and then add as they grow.

Competitive Trade-Ins

Cisco's Technology Migration Program (TMP) allows customers to trade in existing Cisco or competitive products in exchange for a trade-in credit toward the purchase of new Cisco solutions.

"We've created some special offers within TMP so if the partner is running into competitive infrastructure, they can pull that out, put in the [Cisco Meeting Server] technology and get credit for trading in that gear to help make the economics and profitability work even better for the partner," said Wolfson.

Available To SMB Market

Cisco intentionally built Cisco Meeting Server to work best with lower-cost, standard UCS hardware, according to Wolfson. The networking giant is not only going after enterprises with CMS, but the SMB market as well. Cisco created the solution with the ability to support small organizations with only a few users.

A Seat At The Microsoft Table

The big opportunity Cisco Meeting Server gives Cisco channel partners, said Wolfson, is the ability to have a seat at the table in Microsoft environments.

"The partner now has the opportunity to create an infrastructure that lets the customer have an interoperable experience where they want it, and that's fundamental in making sure that every opportunity that crosses a partner desk is now an opportunity that they can go sell into," said Wolfson.

Since Cisco Meeting Server interoperates with other competitors' products as well – including Avaya and Polycom – it opens the door to potentially convert customers to Cisco.

" If you come on with a Polycom endpoint, that will work [with Cisco Meeting Server]. … If you don't allow that connection from day one, then you'll never have a bridge to go and convert that Polycom customer when their hardware needs changing," said Chris Bottger, chief technology officer at IVCi, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based solution provider and Cisco Gold partner.