Wednesday, September 12

Cisco: 8 Trends Worth Watching

By The VAR Guy

The VAR Guy spent September 12 in Dublin, Ireland, locked away with Cisco Systems at the Guinness Brewery. And yes, he actually got some work done. Here are eight key takeaways from the event.

8. The Magic 50: Cisco is tracking 50 key trends that may benefit its partners. Edison Peres, VP for advanced and core technologies, said the trends can be grouped into three areas: The empowered user, real-time information and the borderless enterprise. All three trends are closely related to social networks and Web 2.0 technologies, which allow users– rather than IT teams — to drive social interactions.

7. Open to Open Software: Let’s be clear here. Cisco doesn’t plan to open source its IOS operating system. But the company finally mentioned open source and software in the same sentence at this event. The message was clear: Cisco wants to be open to all software relationships, and considers this a key advantage over Microsoft’s selective software partnering strategy.

6. Long Live Municipal Broadband: Yes, service providers like EarthLink have given the public broadband market a black eye. But savvy Cisco parters like Digitel and Cistera are successfully deploying municipal broadband applications across Georgia and other states.

5. Expanding The Talent Pool: Cisco is continuing its talent initiative to help VARs attract and develop employees, according to Celia Harper-Guerra, senior director for worldwide channels at Cisco.

4. The Ultimate Break: When Cisco sensed editors running out of energy, it was time to shift from PowerPoints to Guinness Pints. The VAR Guy has the photos to prove it.

3. Making A Managed Services Move: Cisco doesn’t plan to launch a managed service platform. Rather, the company this October will announce a pricing strategy to help VARs more effectively manage their own cash flow and network operation centers while building out managed services.

2. The 5K Run: Cisco in Fiscal 2008 is seeking to certify 5,000 partners to sell, service and support SMB solutions.

1. Software Initiative: Cisco announced the Industry Solutions Partner Network at the event. Some folks think this is a network for VARs to work with one another. But the real motivation here is for Cisco to promote software partners in the unified communications market. As one Cisco executive put it, this is the beginning of Cisco’s ISV (independent software vendor) program. And it could solidify Cisco’s lead against Microsoft in the unified communications space.