APIs have come a long way at Cisco. From the days of TAPI, JTAPI and TCL (where they were more designed for eco-system partners to build on-premises applications to sell to customers), to today’s REST-based, easily-accessible-by-just-about-anyone-and-anything APIs for cloud and premises based solutions.
Easier now to customize solutions
Cisco partners might still have memories of how difficult it was to use those old APIs and SDKs, and the costs involved in purchasing and installing the infrastructure to develop and test with them. But things are very different now and it merits a second look to try and take advantage of this new business opportunity to go “customize” the solution for the customer without really having to write a lot of code, or having to maintain middleware.
Getting visibility for partner built integrations or applications was laborious in the past, it involved IVT testing to be listed in the Cisco Marketplace and perhaps eventually even make it to our SolutionsPlus program to be able to be sold using Cisco part numbers. Cisco Marketplace and SolutionsPlus are still very relevant, but partners now have faster ways to showcase and even deliver custom integrations to Cisco solutions that can help their customers on their digitization journey. One example of this can be seen at the Cisco Spark Depot where integrations can be set up and consumed in minutes by customers and Bots requiring only a quick description on what to do with them when added to Spark spaces. Another venue is the Meraki Ecosystem Partner Solutions site where integrations can be showcased and shared easily.
Partners can also showcase their solutions and even share code in DevNet Creations. Sharing code might not always come naturally to traditional Cisco partners accustomed to licensing or selling licenses to production software, but it is a great way to demonstrate their expertise and attract opportunities with simpler applications that can be further customized to meet specific needs.
Speaking of licensing extra software, partners are often challenged with having to make build or buy decisions whenever there is a gap in functionality, when proposing a Cisco solution. These can actually be opportunities to build a longer lasting relationship with the customer and sell professional services.
Getting support is easier too
Since making a decision in a timely manner on his topic can be crucial, partners should leverage the support forums in the DevNet communities to complement the information they obtain from the DevNet documentation and tools, but if they would prefer to discuss the matter more privately, they can work with their Cisco Account team and Partner Helpline to get to the information they need regarding solution APIs and SDKs without discussing it in public. There are even programmability focused demonstrations for end customers delivered remotely as part of that no-cost pre-sales service that can help explore the functionality. This of course is as a complement to the self-service resources available in the DevNet sandboxes and dCloud in addition to lots of sample code available to get you started on the DevNet GitHub repository.
If you are a Cisco partner ready to embrace programmability, there is a lot that DevNet can offer, but we are also very eager to accompany you in other aspects of the journey with events like the DevOps Forum at Cisco Live Cancun – one of the Partner Days where you can share experiences with and hear from other partners that are increasing their relevancy with their customer base with extensions and custom integrations that are simpler to conceive and maintain.
I am very encouraged by what I am seeing lately coming from our partners in this area: the creativity and innovation reflected in many of the examples of apps, bots, and integrations I have seen truly speaks to how qualified they are to apply customer specific business logic to deliver a richer experience when using Cisco solutions to end users and IT departments alike.
Are you ready to take the plunge? It has never been easier to get started!