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Partner Questions Answered: Managed Services, Cloud, and White Label

October 11, 2010
at 12:20 pm PST

You have questions, we have answers. We gathered up questions we’ve been hearing from partners around the topic of managed services, cloud, and white label and sat down with one of the foremost experts on the topic: Todd Roth, Director of the Managed Services Channel Program at Cisco. In this Q&A, he addresses partner concerns around new consumption models, partner-to-partner collaboration, and highlights some new developments in the managed services realm.

And with new cloud service designations within the Managed Services Channel Program (MSCP) that were just announced, this is a good time to explain those as well.


Channels blog: Hi, Todd. Thanks for joining us. What does “cloud service designation within MSCP” mean?

Todd Roth: It’s the beginning of a new class of service designations that enables partners to align and brand their cloud-based offerings with Cisco. Offerings that are built on a Cisco-validated architecture.


CB: What are the designations and who can take advantage?

TR: There are two designations:

  1. Private Cloud, also known as infrastructure as a service (IaaS)
  2. Hosted Collaborative Solution, also known as Unified Communications as a Services (UCaaS)

Additionally, we have road mapped another two designations in the next 12 months around TelePresence and Contact Center, so stay tuned.


CB: Who can be certified?

TR: Any partner who is developing or deploying  cloud or managed services can become MSCP certified. To attain the additional “Cisco Powered” brand designation, a partner will need to go through an additional audit step during the MSCP certification process. The MSCP is open to all service providers or VARs, regardless of geographic location.


CB: Cloud represents massive changes for partners, what are some opportunities?

TR: We think about Cloud not so much as a new market, but more as changes in end-user consumption. With cloud, customers are increasingly asking our partners to provide technology as a service rather than asking partners to install the solution on their  own premises. Partners will begin to provide Cisco technology such as unified communications and data center as a service. The opportunity for partners is about evolving  their business models and expanding their “IT as a service” business offerings for the same or similar customers.

In my view,  partners will have to invest in two primary areas:

  1. Build out the people, processes, and tools to manage and monitor these IT solutions from the data center or network operation center (NOC)
  2. Begin offering third-party applications or services on top of these core network technologies. Examples of applications include: Oracle ERP or CRM from SAP.


CB: For other partners, cloud represents a tremendous threat, what are some of the threats and how can Cisco address those?

TR: This is merely a change in consumption; customers want to buy the same technology, they just don’t want to assume all the risk of deploying it on their own premises. Partners that recognize this and are willing to absorb some risk with the capital outlay upfront to offer XaaS, see an opportunity to enrich their advanced services practices while building retention with the customer through a longer term relationship. It’s also a model where the customer doesn’t have to continue to refresh their network or desktop infrastructure--it’s merely software or application upgrades pushed out through the data center by the partner.

In terms of revenue, partners have greater  opportunity to sell longer term agreements loaded with a richer suite of professional services. This means a more profitable, stickier relationship.

Another trend I’m beginning to see is two partners with complimentary practices formalizing a “white label” relationship as a way to provide IT  solutions as a service to end customers. This can be a lower entry cost and a faster time to market to move into the cloud domain. MSCP supports these white label relationships and we offer a reference guide and site to help partners think through this type of model.

Want to learn more about MSCP, the new cloud designations, and how you can get involved in the MSCP program? Be sure to reserve your spot at the upcoming MSCP webcast on October 13.

And if you have any more questions on this topic, post them here in the blog comments.

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