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Live Blog: Cisco Partner Summit Accelerates Network Intuitive, Multicloud Push

Wendy Bahr,
Wendy Bahr
David Goeckeler
Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins

Cisco Systems solidified its Network Intuitive and Multicloud Management strategy today at Cisco Partner Summit 2017 in Dallas. CEO Chuck Robbins, EVP David Goeckeler and Senior VP Wendy Bahr each offered a reality check and a road map for thousands of Cisco partners.

Moreover, Robbins did a deeper dive on the Cisco-Google Cloud partnership, while Bahr unveiled a relationship with  ConnectWise to help MSPs in the SMB segment.

You'll find more details in each of the session recaps below. Keep checking this live blog for updates throughout the day. We'll fill out content blocks below as the day unfolds. The expected lineup includes:

Chuck Robbins Keynote Recap

  • Isolation Ends: "In today's world my day starts with that ever-important glance at my phone in the morning," CEO Chuck Robbins. Whatever he has planned, it's bound to change based on what those morning alerts tell him about the world around us. "In our business today, we're no longer insulated." You can no longer focus on business and technology in a vacuum, Robbins says. Everything around you is impacting the business. The variables include business, geopolitical issues, global markets, the threat landscape, innovation and more.
  • Intelligence Rules: "We are in the era of intelligence," Robbins says. You need to help customers gain the insights they need.
  • Surprise Guest: Google Coud CEO Diane Greene

    Five Requirements for Modern IT: They include security, reinventing the network, embracing a multi-cloud world, unlocking the power of data and improving the employee and customer experience, Robbins says.

  • Cisco-Google Cloud Partnership: Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene is a surprise guest, describing last week's hybrid IT services partnership with Cisco. The deal was a year in the making, Greene says. The engineers, by the way, are leading the charge, Robbins asserts. "This is not just a package of marketing," Greene adds. "If you're doing something great for customers you're probably going to win. And this is great for customers, so it should be great for partners."
  • Culture: You can count on Cisco to have open, frequent, transparent communications with partners, Robbins asserts. "When it's all said and done, the people are still what makes it happen."
  • Business Transitions: "Regardless of the business transitions we face, we'll make them with you -- our partners."

EVP David Goeckeler Keynote Recap

  • Network Intuitive: That's the big push for Cisco's overall networking strategy -- make things simple...
  • Network Segments: He's discussing five areas of the networking market -- including webscale, service provider, global enterprise, commercial and SMB -- and how Cisco will drive growth.
  • SMB?: Based on that opening slide emphasizing the five market segments, it sounds like a renewed SMB initiative is coming. Long overdue but smart. ChannelE2E believes it could involve FindIT, Cisco Umbrella and plenty more. "The growth opportunity" involves getting customers to simple, secure networking. Additional clues are on Cisco's own SMB blog, which has been updated more frequently lately.
  • Better Outcomes: Cisco's network simplicity push will address four areas -- faster time to deploy policy changes; faster time to detect network issues; faster time to update infrastructure; and faster time to detect malware, he says.
  • Multi-Cloud Bundles: Cisco is organizing its cloud portfolio into four focus areas (see photo below). Stay tuned for various bundle offers.

Channel Chief Wendy Bahr

  • Partner Program Moves: The big opportunities involve Network Intuitive and Multicloud solutions, she asserted. Master Networking Specialization is coming in March. Keep an eye on the DNA Advisor, Migration Incentive Program, Field Engineering Workshops and VIP Activations...
  • Activation Bonuses: "The key to growing recurring revenue and customer loyalty? Activation and adoption," said Bahr. Hence, the VIP Activation effort... It offers up to a 17 percent bonus if you activate at least three Cisco software offerings.
  • AppDynamics Momentum: That company's partner business has grown 220 percent since the AppDynamics acquisition earlier this year...
  • Cisco Software: Shift your focus to lifecycle selling, because 90 percent of the profit becomes after the initial sale of software and SaaS, IDC says. Side note from ChannelE2E: Check out Presidio's new Software Solutions Practice for clues on on lifecycle selling...
  • ConnectWise partnership surfaces during Bahr's keynote...

    VIP Programs: Keep a eye on Cisco's VIP Enterprise Networking Annuity, VP Data Center Annuity, VIP Security Annuity and VIP Collaboration Annuity. She conceded that the company's original SaaS Annuity offering needed work, and the company has adjusted accordingly...

  • ConnectWise Partnership: Cisco is finally talking about SMBs and the MSP sector. The latest effort involves a ConnectWise partnership. It sounds like ConnectWise will help Cisco partners to manage software- and recurring revenue-related opportunities. "Cisco has teamed with ConnectWise to deliver the ConnectWise Unite Portal," Bahr said. Bahr has a media Q&A set for later this afternoon. We'll dig for more details.

Unfolding Now: SMB Emphasis and More

Q&A: A deep dive with Cisco executives Chuck Robbins, Chris Dedicoat, David Goeckeler, Rowan Trollope & Joe Cozzolino

  • Renewed SMB Push: ChannelE2E asked Robbins if Cisco had abandoned SMB in recent years, and is now returning to that market. Robbins' answer: "Cisco didn't abandon SMB but partners were frustrated. They are seeing a resurgence in our efforts." Key opportunities include Meraki and BroadSoft (which typically serves 50 or fewer seats per customer). Stay tuned for more details on that effort.

News: Several mid-day news announcements

  • Stay tuned for updates

Q&A: A deep dive with Wendy Bahr and the Senior Leadership Team

  • Stay tuned for updates

Back-hall Meetings: ChannelE2E interviews with third-party sources from across the small business, distribution and IT security markets.

Cisco and Partners: Both Evolving

CEO Chuck Robbins and the executive team have spent recent years evolving Cisco beyond hardware toward software, cloud services and recurring revenue models.

The latest example: Cisco in recent days announced a hybrid IT services partnership with Google Cloud Platform, and also confirmed plans to acquire BroadSoft for $1.9 billion.

There are signs that Cisco may also shed some of its slower-growth or no-growth businesses. One rumor involves the possible sale of NDS Group, a digital video content management platform that the company acquired for $5 billion in 2012. Some big service providers user the system, but traditional customers like telcos and cable companies are getting squeezed by NetFlix and other streaming services.

Cisco partners also are evolving. A key example: Presidio, the midmarket IT solutions provider, has launched a Software Solutions Practice to help customers select, optimize and manage enterprise applications and more. The software practice will also help customers to get their on-premises and cloud-based software expenses under control.

Keep checking this blog for updates each hour.

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.