Winning teams have a few things in common: they bring together diverse skills, their individual players collaborate to get the job done, and they are driven to succeed. All of those elements aligned in 2018 for the Cisco-CenturyLink partnership.
Americas Service Provider Collaboration Partner of the Year
CenturyLink was recognized with two 2018 Cisco Partner Summit awards in November. These distinguished awards are designed to recognize superior business practices and reward best-in-class methodologies. Areas of consideration include innovative processes, architecture-led successes, strategic business outcome-focused programs, and sales approaches.
The company was awarded Americas Service Provider Collaboration Partner of the Year after growing their collaboration business — including Webex, cloud-connected audio, and related Cisco gear — by 100% year to year and by 200% in collaboration technologies offered as cloud managed services.
The collaboration business continues to be red hot as many companies are still using aging phones and audio bridges. With over-the-top audio and video collaboration companies posing a competitive threat, Cisco and CenturyLink are positioning their collective competitive advantages to customers. These include the collaboration solutions themselves; large service organizations to sell, deploy, and manage them; and network connectivity with guaranteed QoS.
Americas Cloud Partner of the Year
CenturyLink was also named Americas Cloud Partner of the Year for 2018. They were chosen from among service providers, systems integrators, and VARS, due to the 100% year over year revenue growth of Cisco managed services based on Cisco Meraki wireless solutions (Wi-Fi access, security, and SD-WAN). As of this year, CenturyLink was also able to offer Cisco SD-WAN powered by Viptela, a cloud-first architecture for the WAN that fits well with Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA), building on its automation, virtualization and analytics capabilities.
The Cisco team estimated that this fully managed SD-WAN solution would have taken CenturyLink 12 months or more to develop. The Cisco partnership enabled them to take this solution to market much sooner, with the option to eventually bring service management inhouse.
Alignment and Cross-company Collaboration
Behind the scenes, Cisco and CenturyLink have similar, strong, and tenacious sales organizations, with sales associates backed by product sales specialists who have deep technical knowledge. The two companies have connected these sales organizations within their ranks and have collaborated to handle questions and challenges across multiple accounts and geographies. This organizational synergy is cited as one of many key factors behind CenturyLink’s success this year.
This collaboration between the companies worked especially well in 2018 for CenturyLink’s collaboration business. Teams from both companies used, and continue to use, Cisco tools like Webex Teams to work together in team spaces to resolve customer issues faster and to close a record number of deals.
Certifications and Global Expansion in 2019
In May, CenturyLink was the first Cisco alliance partner to gain certifications for all cloud and managed Cisco DNA services based on the Cisco Meraki platform, including cloud managed security access, and SD-WAN. The services were tested and audited by a third party to receive Cisco’s validation that CenturyLink could deliver the highest levels of performance as defined by certification criteria. CenturyLink has also been certified to provide cloud-connected audio, Spark (now Webex Teams), Webex, and software as a service — including unified communications based on the Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution.
With CenturyLink’s acquisition of Level 3 in 2017, the expansion of collaboration, security, SD-WAN, and other Cisco products and services to Europe and Latin America is anticipated in 2019. Cisco is helping in this effort by linking existing multinational customers with CenturyLink to discuss joint needs and appropriate solutions.
The Cisco-CenturyLink partnership grew in the west and midwestern U.S. this past year because of the company’s origins as Qwest among state and local government and educational institutions. Additionally, growing awareness on the east coast led to revenue gains of 137% in that region year over year. And in fiscal 2019, Sales teams from both companies will be working from a healthy pipeline of identified business opportunities.
Great products and services. Keen attention to customer requirements. Fast resolution of questions and challenges. A deep synergy between partners. What was a winning formula for Cisco and CenturyLink in 2018 promises to continue to bear fruit as we approach and convert an expansive list of customers this year as well.