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Partner Voices: A Look Ahead to Cisco Partner Summit 2014

March 18, 2014
at 7:07 am PST

I spend a lot of time behind a keyboard for work. It’s not so bad. I get to work with incredibly smart and talented people at Cisco, and I certainly get to interact with some fabulous folks at our partner companies. Sometimes though, it is nice to meet people face-to-face, you know, like we all used to do.

I had that opportunity a few weeks ago at XChange Solution Provider in Los Angeles.  As I mentioned in my wrap-up for that week, I had the opportunity to have lunch in L.A. with Edison Peres, Sherri Liebo and numerous Cisco partners. I took advantage of the time to ask them about their thoughts on Cisco Partner Summit this year and what value they see in attending the event, or by participating through Virtual Partner Summit (VPS).

Partner Lunch XCHANGE

Lunch with Cisco Partners at XChange Solution Provider earlier this month.

I suppose it’s no surprise that the common theme I heard from all partners was that Partner Summit provides an opportunity to network. Much like I just mentioned, we often don’t get enough face-to-face time these days. Partners highly value the ability to meet with Cisco executives, and with other partners at Partner Summit. The idea exchange that happens each year at Partner Summit is phenomenal. The ability to make connections with other partners, while getting guidance on what Cisco has in store for the upcoming year is invaluable, according to the partners I spoke with.

The connection that is available to you via VPS is crucial as well. In fact, more than one partner I spoke with thought highly of VPS as a way to remain engaged at Partner Summit, even when unable to attend physically.

For example, Brad Cicero, Partner at Allied Technology Group, LLC, told me, “Networking is the most important part of being there for me, but when I can’t attend like this year, I really do try to watch all the sessions I can on VPS. I also know I can catch up on the sessions later if I do miss something.”

Staying up-to-date on those sessions was a key theme from every partner I spoke with, along with being able to provide feedback directly to Cisco during the event.  Many mentioned that they felt the feedback they provided helps shape Cisco strategy and tactics each year as well.

As an example of how Cisco tactics have been shaped with partner feedback, Richard Fly, Director of Government Programs at iT1 referenced the recent changes in Cisco Commerce Workspace (CCW) when he said, “The changes we’ve seen in CCW over the past 5-6 years are great. In my opinion, CCW has improved greatly and it makes working with Cisco easier. Everything just interoperates better.”

Thomas Winter had a great blog about the CCW changes on the Channels Blog a few weeks back. Be sure to check that blog out for full details on the changes to CCW.

Since Richard will be at Partner Summit this year, I asked him what he was really looking forward to hearing more about from Cisco.

“I’ve heard about new efforts from Cisco to combat the gray market. That is always a challenge for us on the government side. It is a serious issue for us to be sure. I would love to hear more about how Cisco will combat the gray market and about security,” Fly said.

Michael Doyle, President and COO at Network Data System will also be attending Partner Summit in Las Vegas this year. Specifically, Doyle is looking to get some insight this year on public cloud.

“I am looking forward to talking about public cloud. There were a lot of announcements last year in Boston and I want to see just how Cisco thinks things are progressing. Are things going like they thought? What has happened that they didn’t anticipate? Is there a revised strategy on owning that space?” Doyle asked.

He continued, “Ultimately we always want to know what’s important to Cisco and where does Cisco want its partners to play?”

Those are just a few quick thoughts from Cisco partners from a couple of weeks back. What’s on your mind in this last week prior to Partner Summit? What are you most looking forward to discussing next week? Are there specific VPS sessions you are most interested in? If so, make sure you’re registered for VPS and let me know in the comments section below!

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