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Partner Differentiation in a Cloud Services Era

As Chief Strategist of the Worldwide Partner Organization, I often speak with partners about their value-add, differentiation, and profitability. Here are some thoughts on how the traditional partner differentiation model needs to evolve in the cloud market place.

Partner profitability has always been driven by the unique value that partners add to surround the offerings from their suppliers. This can be in the form of integration with other third-party products, their own pre- and post-sales services, or even custom service level agreements. The more unique this differentiation, the higher is the partner margin on the transaction; and the more relevant their proposed solution is for the customer, the higher is their probability of winning the order. It is not surprising to see two Cisco partners – one making 12% gross margin and the other making over 25% on similar transactions due to their differing value propositions. Both business models are valid as long as the partner is managing the overhead against the subject margin they are receiving.

Over the past decade, channel partners have typically created unique value propositions around the Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) they have been reselling to end customers. This proposition may include having the lowest price, providing fast delivery, conducting pre-delivery testing or configuration, on-site installation or integration, and many others. These CPE related on-premise value propositions are still relevant in the cloud builder role, but are often not applicable to a cloud services reselling role.

It is clear that the market is moving rapidly to cloud adoption based on new consumption models. According to UBM (United Business Media), 37% of all IT spend will be off-premise in 2013 and there will also be an 11% decline in CPE sales next year. Channel partners need to create new value propositions to differentiate themselves when they resell new cloud services instead of CPE to their customers. In some ways, this requires a return to basics: Read More »

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Measure Twice, Cut Once

If you’re like me, you’ve ignored this sage advice a time or so.  Thankfully my most recent rush to a solution was remedied by a trip back to the home improvement store and $100 or so.  Most IT “goofs” extract a much dearer cost.  In this third installment of Cisco Insights – Cloud, Bob Dimicco profiles a non-profit company who successfully resisted the pressure to jump straight on the Cloud project bandwagon.  Instead they opted for a thoughtful, measured approach.  Partnering with Cisco, they first conduced a thorough strategy and business justification assessment.  By focusing on their key business drivers and desired outcomes, they were able to get a complete picture of benefits, costs, and a deep understanding of where the true ROI would be.  They allowed the facts, not the hype or pressure to guide their direction.  Watch the video find out where they went next on their journey to cloud.

Read about two other companies’ cloud stories in my previous two blogs:

  1. Good Help is Essential – A Software Company Partners with Cisco Services to Uncover Cloud Opportunities
  2. Public Cloud with Confidence --  Find out how Cisco Helps a Leading Consumer Packaged Goods Manufacturer with Cloud Management

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Cloud: Are You Going to Wonder if You Could Have Had it All?

As I think about cloud, Adele’s Grammy award-winning song  “Rolling in the Deep” comes to mind. Strange flight of fantasy?  I think not.  As the refrain, “you could have had it all,” repeats in my head, I think about how similar cloud is to finding love. Like dating , there are a lot of different approaches to cloud , and it is not always clear what the right one is.  Like romance, cloud is full of fun, promise, and pitfalls. Like a lasting relationship, realizing the promise and avoiding the pitfalls takes a lot of work. But unlike finding one’s soul mate, finding success with cloud can be guaranteed..  You need the right approach, solid planning, and sometimes a little help from your friends.

Cisco’s cloud experts have been working hard to:

  • Leading the market with technology innovations such as the Unified Data Center and Cloud Intelligent Network
  • Creating deep relationships with partners who enable us to provide complete, industry-leading cloud solutions for different cloud approaches
  • Testing our technologies and professional services in our own IT environment and documenting our results

We have seen tremendous benefits, and so have our partners and customers.

 As part of the Cisco’s services organization, I think a lot about what it takes to enable a successful cloud.   And I think about how to have a little fun along the way. One of the fun, free things that I have worked on is the Cloud Profile Tool.  All you need to do is answer 10 quick questions, and you’ll receive a customized report with recommendations to help you get started.  If you like what you see and want to have a deeper, complimentary conversation with Cisco or one of our cloud partners, we’d be glad to set that up.  Try the Cloud Profile Tool in English or in another language and let me know what you think.

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After Two Years in the Cloud, New Paradigms Prevail

Co-written by Bryan Mobley, Director, IBSG Service Provider

The business world’s rise to the cloud has been dramatic and increasingly rapid. From an initial attitude of vague interest mixed with trepidation, organizations have begun to embrace the transition in a big way. Some are already realizing the expansive benefits in costs, efficiency, and innovation that come with this game-changing technology.

To keep with the pulse of cloud migration, Cisco initiated a series of roundtable discussions two years ago. The philosophy of each meeting was to bring together 10 to 20 decision makers from a variety of enterprises, midsized businesses, and government agencies. So far, we’ve held 15 of these discussions across North America. In addition to providing a unique opportunity to share our thought leadership, these sessions provide an ideal forum for hearing our customers’ thoughts on cloud: the benefits, the inhibitors, and even a few war stories. In the end, however, it is the advantages of cloud that spark the most contagious conversations.

Here are some of the key trends that have emerged from two years of discussions:

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Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISR) 881W/GW achieve FIPS 140-2 Certification!

April 13, 2012 at 7:12 am PST

The Global Certification Team (GCT) is thrilled to announce that the ISR 881W/881GW has completed the FIPS certification process.  The official listing has been posted to the NIST website, being awarded certificate #1700, as FIPS 140-2, Level 2 Certified.

The Cisco 881W and Cisco 881GW ISR’s provide connectivity and security services in a single, secure device. These routers offer broadband speeds and simplified management to small businesses, and enterprise small branch and teleworkers. The module is also a wireless access point that provide secure wireless access to clients.

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