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Cisco Systems Identifies Four New Partner Routes to Market

Wendy Bahr,
Wendy Bahr

Four new routes to market are emerging for channel partners, according to Cisco Systems (CSCO) Channel Chief Wendy Bahr. The routes to market, discussed at Cisco Partner Summit 2016, include the traditional "resale" model along with four new paths forward. They are...

1. Multi-partner, which is taking off now. Basically, a mix of VARs, MSPs, CSPs, integrators, ISVs and other partners working together to solve specific customer needs.

2. IT service provider: This is different than a traditional outsourcer, she asserted. Here, the partner takes complete control of a customer's infrastructure and assists the customer on the journey toward digital success.

3. Designed in: This involves co-creation between partners and/or customers. This opens up OT and IoT opportunities, she asserted.

4. Platform: This is the newest opportunity Cisco is exploring. This involves partners with Cisco-powered clouds, Amazon, Google, Microsoft Azure and distributor brokerages. "We need to be participating in that profitable route to market as well.

ChannelE2E's Reaction

My spin? I need a bit more info on each those models. But my initial thoughts...

1. Multi-Partner: Cisco says it's a hot trend but I have to concede -- I haven't seen a "huge" wave of partners working with one another. Especially when partners want to be the partner of record that maintains account control. Still, I'll dig around for examples of success here. And keep an eye on DevNet, which may help partners to collaborate more closely together while also helping partners to push deeper into software development.

Whoops: Time for me to eat some humble pie. In a follow-up interview, Cisco clarified that this mostly involves partners combining Cisco platforms with ISV offerings. An example: Veeam backup software running on Cisco hardware, which is available as its own SKU from Avnet Technology Solutions. Hmmm... I wouldn't call that a "new" route to market since Microsoft has worked with hardware OEMs in the same way for dozens of years. But it's certainly a real trend for Cisco and its partners.

2. IT Service Provider: Here, I think Bahr is making the point that service providers are evolving from maintenance (i.e., keeping the lights on) to innovation (i.e., helping customers to select, deploy and manage platforms that actually generate revenue.

3. Designed In: Careful with this one. If co-creation ever leads to true innovations and intellectual property, then partners will need to carefully define who owns that IP -- and how it's protected/monetized/enhanced.

4. Platform: Here, frankly, I think Cisco is a bit late to market. A growing list of MSPs now monetize, manage and monitor customer workloads in Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and more. So far at Cisco Partner Summit, the company hasn't said much about its relationships with the major cloud providers... There are some examples of Cisco and AWS working together. Cisco and Microsoft also embarked on a cloud partnership in March 2015, but I'm not sure what became of it...

That's all for now.

Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.