Cisco overhauls partner program with streamlined deal registration

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Cisco overhauls partner program with streamlined deal registration

Cisco Systems is shaking up its partner program by launching a simplified strategy for deal registration and specialisations, as well as new incentive programs.

The networking leader unveiled the changes on Wednesday at the Cisco Partner Summit, being held in Dallas this week.

The company is evolving its channel strategy to help partners capture new opportunities, refine software and services skills, and differentiate themselves in the market, according to Marc Surplus, vice president of strategy, planning and programs for Cisco's Global Partner Organisation.

Cisco has fundamentally simplified its deal registration process by streamlining the approval process and lowering the amount of input needed, Surplus said. The company is consolidating its 15 hunting and teaming program tracks to just two. In addition, Cisco is reducing the number of incentives around account takeout or new account acquisition referred to as "account breakaways,"

Cisco also is drastically changing its specialisation portfolio. The company has reduced its 10 Express-level specialisations to one, cut the number of Advanced Specialisations from 13 to five Advanced Architecture Specialisations, and is retiring all Advanced Technology Specialisations expect for Advanced Video.

The simplification effort will remove redundancy, refresh content and streamline the process for partners, according to Cisco. The company will embed more technical capabilities, such as internet of things, into its Advanced Architecture Specialisations.

"We're streamlining the overall partner experience. We're trying to get partners to the right discount faster to optimise business," Surplus said.

Cisco also unveiled a specialisation that will be key to its intent-based Intuitive Network platform strategy: the Master Networking Specialisation. The new specialisation, which will become available in March, emphasises skills around analytics, programmability and automation.

Cisco also launched a slew of new incentive programs during Partner Summit to boost the channel on the software and services fronts.

The networking giant's new VIP Annuity program provides partners with up-front rebates for landing a software-as-a-service deal, as well as expanding or renewing SaaS deals with existing customers. The program applies to enterprise networking, data centre, security and collaboration sales with performance-based recurring revenue rebates. The entry bar for the program is $1000 in monthly recurring revenue.

Cisco also unveiled VIP Activation that adds back-end rebates on software deployments for Cisco ONE and Digital Network Architecture (DNA) Advantage suites, as well as for Cisco Identity Services Engines (ISE) and Cisco Stealthwatch.

"[VIP Activation] is for partners who get the software turned on when they land the deal, and that is generally through a professional services engagement," said Sandra Flinders, senior director of Cisco's Worldwide Services Partner Programs. "For products such as ISE, Stealthwatch and DNA Centre, partners can earn considerable rebates for getting all those three software applications turned on."

The third new program is Cisco's Migration Incentive Program (MIP), which provides partners with an incremental discount on all qualifying hardware, software and services migration opportunities. The program is designed for selling newer technologies into Cisco's install base and includes additional accelerators on specific technologies.

Cisco said the program updates are designed to help the channel more effectively shift business to software and recurring revenue.

"These changes should make life easier for partners," said Surplus. "The evolution of our partner programs reflect our shift towards a software and a services skill set, and making sure partners succeed in owning the digital transformation space."

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