Channel chiefs, Channel partner events, Channel partner programs, Data centers, Networking

Live Blog: Cisco Partner Summit 2016

At Cisco Partner Summit 2016, CEO Chuck Robbins said the days of vertically integrated models from single vendors are over. Instead, he pointed to a new age that's "powered by partnerships." But that's not all. CFO Kelly Kramer described Cisco's shift to recurring revenue and software subscription services, and the company announced its HyperFlex hypercongerged platform. Bonus: Read our Q&A with CEO Chuck Robbins and Channel Chief Wendy Bahr.

Keynote Recap

Here's our minute-by-minute update from this morning's Cisco Partner Summit 2016 keynotes. Keep checking back for more. Breaking News: Cisco is buying CliQr Technologies for $260 million. The startup's CloudCenter platform helps IT service providers and customers to more effectively deploy and manage applications across public, private and hybrid cloud environments.
Wendy Bahr
Wendy Bahr
Keynote Recap: Wendy Bahr, Senior VP, Global Partner Organization, Cisco
  • Powered by Partnerships is the theme -- "and our reality. It's our past and present and certainly will be our future."
  • The event attracted 1,200 partner companies and 2,200 partner attendees -- 60 percent of which have been a Cisco partner for more than 12 years.
  • Partners continue to drive more than 80 percent of Cisco's business, year after year, she mentioned.
  • GlobalTouch has completed a profitability study of Cisco partners. The number one driver for profitability was security.
  • Most profitable partners are also heavy into expanding professional consulting services, delivering hybrid cloud and selling outside of corporate IT, she added.
  • News - Partner Program: Cisco is evolving its partner program to focus on simplicity; alignment (particularly sales and marketing) across security, software, next-generation data center and the digital network. Plus some geo-region alignment priorities.
  • And finally, Cisco is evolving its value exchange... "We will evolve how we exchange value with you." This will involve an evolution of incentives. ChannelE2E: I'm intrigued to know if this "value exchange" involves a shift on channel partner margins. I'll be sure to ask later today during meetings.
  • News: Cisco is launching Partner Engage -- a digital suite including analytics and campaign reporting for all partners.
  • News: Software partner roles launching May 1 include Lifecycle Advisor (to help customers focus on adopt, expand and renew) and software integrator (for Spark for Developers). The latter will help partners with DevOps.
  • Read our Q&A with Wendy Bahr
chuck robbins Chuck Robbins
Keynote Recap: Chuck Robbins, CEO, Cisco
  • Robbins waxed poetic about Bahr's ability to represent partner interests within Cisco's halls. "She's the right channel leader at the right time."
  • "The absolutely best thing about being CEO at Cisco is I get to present on Tuesday morning, and enjoy the parties the next two nights."
  • "The winners in the next decade will be powered by partnerships. It's moving too fast; the days of completely vertically integrated models are behind us."
  • Robbins recapped the turbulent first few days of 2016, as financial markets gyrated. And the overall industry "has never moved so fast," he asserted. "We're on the front-end of this massive digital transformation."
  • The key data point: We'll move from 18 billion connected devices to 50 billion in the next few years. "When things are a little tough, that's when we separate ourselves from the competition."
  • Among  customers visiting Cisco's experience centers, the typical customer brings 13 employees -- and 70 percent of those attendees have been from outside of the IT organization.
  • In the past two months, Robbins has met with 17 heads of state -- to help countries worldwide tap into the digital revolution.
  • The data shift: Data will no longer be pulled into a data center. "This discussion is over. It will be data centers, and remote centers of data. Don't bring the data to computing assets, bring the compute out to the data. The data is going to be more important than ever."
  • Security, by extension, must be everywhere. He pointed to the SourceFire and OpenDNS acquisitions as modern ways to "solve for security" the minute the packet hits the wire.
  • When Cisco thinks about innovation, the company focuses on build vs buy, partner, invest or co-develop. Cisco has acquired 192 companies in its history. The company has $2.1 billion invested worldwide in 100 startups and 40 funds worldwide. And those investments connect back to Cisco's strategic framework, he said.
  • Robbins says Cisco is now working with web-scale companies to gain real-time feedback on code development. He didn't mention competitive threats from Facebook's open source networking push.
  • He took a moment to recognize Pankaj Patel, EVP and chief development officer, as a selfless leader who has quietly delivered innovation to partners for nearly two decades.
  • Robbins highlighted partners across industrial verticals, transportation, buildings and workplaces and more. He was basically doubling down on the Internet of Things outside of traditional compute devices.
  • He managed the channel partners taking on ISV traits. "Many of you are acquiring or building application development capabilities."
  • "More than anything else our future is powered by trust" between Cisco and partners.
  • Read our Q&A with Chuck Robbins.
Kelly Kramer Kelly Kramer
Keynote Recap: Kelly Kramer, Executive VP and CFO, Cisco
  • She was a GE veteran before joining Cisco about four years ago. Kramer is driving home Cisco's focus on profitable growth, strategic investments and capital return.
  • Cisco's latest quarterly revenue grew 2 percent, profits grew 8 percent and the dividend jumped 24 percent.
  • "We are very deliberately shifting our business to software, subscription services and recurring revenue." Roughly 28 percent of Cisco's revenues are now recurring. OpenDNS and Jasper, she noted, are key to those efforts.
  • She pointed to "high value" recurring revenue growth with predictability and stability. "We are separating ourselves from old tech" and making wise decisions that also deliver partner profitability, she said.
  • Kramer also pointed to Cisco Capital, the company's financing arm -- including some special perks involving data centers. Details likely coming Wednesday.
  • Keep checking back for updates.

More: CEO Interview, Hyperconverged Launch, SDN Updates

Proceed to page 2 for Cisco press conference coverage. We touch on Cisco's Hyperconverged launch (HyperFlex) and SDN, plus an interview with CEO Chuck Robbins and Channel Chief Wendy Bahr and more. Welcome to page 2 of our live blog from Cisco Partner Summit.

Cisco Press Conference

After the keynotes, ChannelE2E attended press conferences and gatherings covering the news of the day -- including. Here's a recap... Hyperconverged Infrastructure & HyperFlex: Rob Soderbery, senior VP, enterprise products and service.
  • Although hyperconverged solutions deliver simplicity, Soderbery made the case that first-generation hyberconverged solutions lack performance, scale, automation and more. Cisco Hyperflex solutions address those issues, he asserted.
  • It doesn't replace converged infrastructure. It complements it, he asserted.
  • The hyperconverged market is expanding 60 percent per year, according to Ken Trombetta, VP, global partner organization. The Cisco offering delivers 30 percent lower TCO with 48 percent better performance -- meaning that Cisco should grab share rapidly, he added.
  • Over 50 hyperconverged workshops are scheduled here today for systems integrators -- delivered virtually and face to face.
SDN Strategy & CliQr: Soni Jiandani, Senior VP, Insieme Business Unit
  • She jumped into Cisco's SDN strategy, describing new Nexus Fabric Manager capabilities and programmable network enhancements. "We're refreshing our entire SDN data center switching product lines."
  • "We'll innovate in our programmable, open operating operating system," she added.
  • Cisco claims it has a two-year ASIC time to market advantage in terms of performance. "Our competitors can barely cope with sampling this traffic, let alone running it," she said. "The net-net is 50 percent lower cost, lower power consumption, higher reliability and the opportunity for investment protection for next decade at price points our competitors can't match."
  • ChannelE2E confession: It's difficult to fact-check such performance claims in real-time at a conference, but we'll poke around soon for industry reaction.
  • The CliQr acquisition, announced today, will extend Cisco partner capabilities to oversee entire application lifecycle management on-premises or across hybrid, private, managed or public cloud.
Partner Engage Digital Tools: Michelle Chiantera, senior director, global partner marketing
  • Cisco is launching a range of digital marketing tools -- called Partner Engage -- to help partners drive customer engagements.
  • The four pillars include marketing velocity, partner marketing central, digital demand services and digital marketing experts.
Q&A Sessions: Interviews with Robbins, Bahr and more. Check back frequently for live updates throughout the day. If you're at the conference and would like to potentially meet, please email me: [email protected].
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.