Posts tagged ‘VARs’

Back to the Future

Cisco’s Partner-Led SMB Model Promises New Customer and Partner Value

Beth Vanni – Vice President, Amazon Consulting

Whenever Cisco talks about new investments in partnering programs or support, it’s always a déjà vu experience for me. They invest so much already and have so many sales and marketing tools for partners, it’s a bit of a brain teaser to remember what’s new. But, there are a few gems of support announced in their enhanced SMB Partner-Led sales strategy that remind me of the infamous “flux capacitor” scene from the movie Back to the Future.

Andrew Sage, the company’s newly promoted VP of Worldwide Partner-Led Sales, brings a great legacy to his new position. He’s been studying how to make Cisco successful with small (really, truly small <100 user) companies for several years. That’s made him a bit akin to Back to the Future’s Doc Brown within Cisco. He’s pioneered new coverage models (Road Warrior), new product sets (Small Business Communication System) and a new way to look at the value of the channel in owning SMB customer relationships within his legacy enterprise-selling organization. Having at one time been a part of the SMB market development team at Cisco, I know personally that’s a tough job.

But, there are two things Cisco announced that could be that secret sauce, their flux capacitor (the device that made time travel in a Delorean possible) in this Partner-Led model.  The first is their plans to build a global partner-led marketing engine. Now, they’ve built some great marketing assets and gotten very grass-roots in the past with their larger VARs and Service Providers on marketing campaigns and automation (for example the Velocity conference). If they can bring that level of lead qualification and passing and field marketing assistance to the more regional partners catering to SMB, that will be a big deal.  

The second thing we think is a Cisco game-changer in SMB is their newly announced Technology Solutions Network. This is a team of inside sales engineers uniquely focused on SMB product sets and the SMB-focused partner. The ability for this team to be highly accessible (albeit on the phone) to help partners’ sales engineers with quotes, architectures and customer presentations could be huge. Many other vendors have tried this, most often in the field. Cisco will start with 300 partners who will have access to this team – that focused approach will be good. But, Cisco’s ability to help prepare partner for the all important prospecting proof-of-concept and pre-sales work will be the lynch-pin of them realizing the returns they want in this partner-led approach.

So, what’s new about SMB partnering at Cisco? The unique focus on enabling partners to do most of the pre-sales and prospecting work, in line with their larger peers. A fire-in-the-belly SMB-centric leader with a strong track record of success. An enhanced set of investments in people, automation and new economic incentives for partners to win deals with/for Cisco in SMB. And, a Wall Street community who’s watching this market-leader and their big-bet investments very closely these days.   

Doc Brown says to Marty McFly when prompted to back up the Delorean in order to accelerate to 88 mph before jumping to time travel, “Roads? We don’t need roads where we’re going!” Cisco’s got an unbelievable set of assets, partnering DNA and passion to take their SMB success to the next level. Their partners’ belief and trust that Cisco can cut through its own complexity and focus outside their enterprise investments to make this a reality is perhaps the networking giant’s real flux capacitor.

September 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm Leave a comment

Cisco’s Video Vision: Will Partner Competency be as Pervasive as the Technology?

By Beth Vanni – Director, Market Intelligence

It’s arguably the sexiest part of Cisco’s classic networking infrastructure  —  collaboration software and video conferencing for every workspace.  It makes the power of the network very visible, literally. To this technology laggard, these products represent the ultimate “killer app” for IT communications.  The days of George Jetson have arrived! (more…)

November 17, 2010 at 10:34 pm Leave a comment

The Ecosystem of the Cloud: The Roles and Requirements of the Next Generation Solution Provider

A Candid Conversation with Robert Fuller from Rackspace Hosting

Beth Vanni, Director, Market Intelligence


I recently sat down with Robert Fuller, vice president of worldwide channel sales at Rackspace Hosting, Inc., a global provider of infrastructure and hosting services. We discussed his views of the evolving cloud and services market. Some of the topics we covered included the business models cloud solution providers are adopting and the bigger challenges that solution providers are facing as they build cloud practices. We also discussed how Rackspace supports partners (2,000 worldwide) as they build practices around this new technology.

Here are some highlights, with Fuller’s thoughts on:

Infrastructure challenges for cloud services providers:

“VARs and MSPs are suddenly realizing that they offered to host one of their customer’s services in their own data center versus them putting it under their desk on premise. (more…)

August 24, 2010 at 9:56 pm Leave a comment

Dell Distribution Agreement Shock Waves

By Tim Lowe

Finally some news other than what’s going on in the economy!

DELL’s distribution agreement announcement is sending shock waves throughout the industry larger than rumors of IBM-SUN merger discussions. The availability of a subset of the DELL product line through broad line distributors Ingram Micro and Tech Data has ramifications for every value added reseller in the channel. The worst kept secret in the industry for years has been the percentage of DELL desktop and laptop business that has either been sold or influenced by the channel. I’ve never seen an accurate estimate of how many Dell desktops have been “sold” by the channel through the influence of a solution provider either for a configuration fee or simply as part of the overall solution package. And of course Dell has used broad line distributors for years to provide the logistics of their third party options. However the public announcement of a formal relationship between DELL and Ingram Micro/Tech Data legitimizes the entrance of Dell into the channel supply chain. (more…)

March 30, 2009 at 3:12 am Leave a comment

Partner Credit Crunch

By Tim Lowe

Every day the news is full of information regarding the worldwide financial and credit crisis.  While the economic “downturn” is affecting every aspect of IT business from overall sales to an increased emphasis on green computing, the reduction of available credit is a fundamental business change that has the potential to drastically change the IT channel model. While it’s not as sexy as a headline describing a looming depression, if partners are unable to buy products, they can’t sell them!

We are already seeing a drastic reduction in the available credit, with IBM Global Financing terminating a program that provided multivendor reseller financing. While distributors claim to not have reduced their lines of available credit, as the economy takes its toll on VARs, we will definitely see distributors increase their vigilance in reviewing open lines of credit. And the smallest VARs that rely on credit card and home equity financing have seen those lines  arbitrarily reduced or terminated with no review of the VAR business financials. This is not only affecting smaller VARs., we hear reports of $100M+ partners reviewing their available credit and looking for creative financing. The Channel Insider 2009 Market Pulse Report, a biannual study of economic activity and key performance indicators of the North America technology reseller and services channel, indicates  over half of partners surveyed are concerned with tightening credit and payment terms.
(more…)

March 19, 2009 at 3:19 am Leave a comment


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