The Cisco Channel Partner Program has always focused on value versus volume, rewarding partners who create value, no matter their size or sales volume. The program has evolved over time to identify market transitions, enable our partners through these transitions and recognize partners for their practices. With major market transitions happening today, our channel partners have unique opportunities to once again evolve their business models and offer even more value to their customers, while at the same time, differentiating themselves and growing profitably.

To that end, today at the Cisco Partner Summit 2014, we are announcing the next generation of Cisco’s Channel Partner Program, which is a critical component of the Cisco Partner Ecosystem that Bruce Klein, SVP of Cisco’s Worldwide Partner Organization, is also unveiling today.

The next generation channel program will enable and reward partners for adopting new consumption models and reaching new buying centers, with an emphasis on solutions, hybrid IT, and architectures. Channel partners will see changes across Certifications, Specializations and Incentives. Partners will generally have 16-24 months to transition to the new requirements.

Certifications: Cisco is streamlining our certification structure to better enable partners to differentiate and invest in their Cisco practice.

Gold: Customers are requiring IT solutions to be delivered both “on-prem” and via the cloud. Our Gold certification, which remains our strongest “breadth” brand, will require partners to embrace a hybrid IT business model. Partners will need to show they actively sell a minimum of four cloud/managed service offers spanning:

  • Cisco Powered Cloud Services, like Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution (HCS)
  • Cisco Cloud Services, like Cisco WebEx, Cisco Meraki, Cisco Cloud Web Security (Scansafe)
  • Any partner-created Cisco-based managed service, or, any of the 11 Cisco Powered Managed Service offers, including managed services for Data Center, Collaboration and Security.

In addition to having four CCIEs, to help partners reach new buying centers, Gold partners will need to have a Cisco Business Value Practitioner on staff. Partners will continue to be required to hold four Cisco Advanced Architecture Specializations, including the new Security and Enterprise Networks Architecture Specializations.

Premier and Select: Premier certification requirements will also expand to include hybrid IT. Specifically, partners will need to have one cloud/managed service offer as well as a Cisco Express or Advanced Architecture Specialization. Select certification will remain Cisco’s entry level for partners who want to leverage Cisco’s registration incentive program to grow their business in the midsize market.

Retiring Silver: Based on partner feedback, Cisco will retire the Silver designation on April 1, 2016. Building on our approach that Master is as “good as Gold,” Silver partners can choose to increase their breadth and become Gold Certified or increase their depth to become Master Specialized. Alternatively, they may choose to move to Premier Certification which will allow partners to enjoy the benefits they’ve earned while meeting the growing demand for hybrid cloud solutions.

Global Commerce: Cisco is recognizing the world is flatter and we are simplifying our global and multination certification requirements as a result. We have also implemented changes to our Global Partner Network (GPN) program to simplify transactions with global customers. For example, we’ve simplified the deal registration process in GPN, which makes it easier to register and transact deals with customers that have a global footprint.

Specializations: Cisco is enhancing its specializations portfolio to help partners create more value for their customers with business outcome skills, and to differentiate themselves in the market. Specializations will continue to focus on “depth” – spanning Master, Advanced and Express. Cisco values breadth and depth equally, which is again, why we firmly believe Master is as “good as Gold.” Enhancements include:

  • Driving conversations with lines of business buyers: Cisco is enhancing its Specialization portfolio to include:
    • Two new Master Specializations: Enterprise Networks and Service Provider Technology (SPT)
    • Solutions Specializations, including Flexpod, VSPEX/Vblock, Desktop Virtualization, Enterprise Mobility, and Cisco TeleHealth that help you differentiate your solution practice and capitalize on our connected ecosystem partnerships.
  • Simplifying our framework with added flexibility: New specializations are being designed with a modular framework, with a core set of requirements plus electives, providing partners with greater options that closely align to their business strategy.  Renewals will require partners to focus on what’s “new” versus getting recertified on the entire specialization every year.

Incentives: Cisco is simplifying and enriching incentive programs to better recognize and reward partner value, and protect their investment.

  • Bringing Incentive Programs Together: A new single deal registration process will be launching in the second half of 2014 that will bring independent up-front discount incentives under one umbrella called the Cisco Deal Registration Program. This will make it easier for partners to apply for incentives and be rewarded for their full value – one place, one time, all stackable.
  • Registered Deal Differential: Incentives and rewards will continue to be based on the investments and value partners add. Partners who register deals with Cisco will qualify to receive a discount differential of up to 8 discount points, an increase of 60% over the current discount, even on non-standard deals.

I’m excited about the changes and the opportunities we have ahead. The future is bright for Cisco and our partners – we are making the Internet of Everything possible. As we have in the past, I’m confident our partners will make the necessary transitions to evolve their business models successfully, and together we’ll bring even more value to our customers.

Partners can find full information on the Channel Partner Program at Cisco Partner Central. Authentication using a Cisco Partner login is required to access this information.


Edison Peres

Senior Vice President, Worldwide Channels