I am always excited to talk about Master Specializations. And you may have heard at Partner Summit, back in March of this year, about our heightened focus and continued commitment to our Master Partners.

“Our Master Specializations in Security, Collaboration and Cloud speak to our subject matter expertise and ability to dive deeper, creating business relevant solutions for our customers.” This is how John Rohde of World Wide Technology (WWT) aptly describes his experience as a Cisco Master Specialized partner. WWT has been a Cisco Gold Partner since 2002, and they made a careful decision to become Master Specialized, going deeper in three areas: Security, Collaboration, and Cloud Builder.

Why did we add Master Specialization to our Channel Partner Program portfolio? It’s simple: to build greater customer confidence and stronger relationships in an increasingly complex technological world. Our Master Specialization helps you better align your expertise with to your customer’s business needs.

For example, an area like security is relentlessly high-pressure and constantly changing. When customers put their trust in Cisco technologies to enforce the strongest security possible, they want to work with a partner who has invested in and demonstrated a level of proficiency that is on par with Cisco security experts.

Why are Master Specializations so important to partners? Because here’s what it tells your customers:

You have exclusive access to resources within Cisco. Master Specialized partners have early exposure to our technology roadmaps, access to the Cisco Design Zone for tested designs and configurations, and inclusion in councils focused on these technology areas.

They should have confidence that you don’t just know more, you’ve done more. This level of specialization is not based solely on what you know, but the number, type, and quality of solutions you have successfully delivered to customers.

You have invested in resources that they won’t find elsewhere.  To qualify for the Master Specializations, there are specific requirements for investing in people (which may include additional CCIE-certified personnel), processes, and network management tools.

Cisco audits your capabilities. To protect the integrity and value of Master Specializations for you and your customers, Cisco validates your technical and service capabilities with an onsite audit.

Today, there is a very exclusive group of Master Specialized partners.  They enjoy a higher-level of incentive rewards but also use their Master brand and badge to take advantage of a dedicated marketing campaign designed just for them. Check out our Learning center on CRN for more details.

Silver Certified partners would also benefit from taking a closer look at the Master Specializations, based on their business model.  Master Specialization is a great path for specialty partners that do not chose to become Gold or Advanced in all categories.

If you need more information on becoming a Master Specialized partner, be sure to check out our website here.

And, look for more blogs from me about Master Specialization coming soon.

In the meantime, feel free to leave me your comments and questions below. I can’t wait to hear your take.


Steve Benvenuto

Sr. Director, Business Development

Worldwide Partner Organization