For the first time in years, Cisco is adding a new certification level to its Partner Program: Cisco Global Gold.
"The world is changing. Supporting global customers is becoming more and more important," Marc Surplus, senior director of strategy, planning and programs for Cisco's global partner organisation, told CRN USA.
"As Cisco moves increasingly into software as part of our portfolio and we start to drive enterprise agreements, or ELA's, the need for the partner to drive that deployment globally in a consistent way across a customer lifecycle has increased."
The following are the most important things Cisco channel partners need to know about the new Cisco Global Gold certification tier.
Top of the pyramid
Effective 23 May, Cisco Global Gold is the networking giant's top certification partner tier, surpassing Cisco Gold status. The new Cisco certification tiers from lowest to highest now go: Registered, Select, Premier, Gold, Global Gold.
Gold status everywhere
If a partner becomes Global Gold certified, the solution provider automatically receives Gold partner tier status in any country they're registered in.
"Global Gold partners can support customers with planning, designing, implementation and operate solutions as a Cisco Gold partner in any country they are located in," Cisco's Surplus said.
Global Gold benefits
The Global Gold certification was created to make it easier for partners to do business globally with different customers, as well as large multi-national organisations.
"With that Global Gold certification, they have a simplified global experience working with Cisco. They can leverage direct purchasing where they're eligible for it. They're eligible for global and region discounts and incentives," said Surplus.
"There's an increased amount of value exchange they receive back from Cisco. Then from a go-to-market perspective, they can always portray themselves as Global Gold … Wherever they are registered to do business with Cisco, partners can support those customers with a globally consistent process now whether it be delivery, support or helping customers achieve business outcomes."
Cisco's new top certification is open to any partners that want to invest in global and local business, said Surplus. There are several options for partners to obtain Global Gold, from meeting the requirements through a set of certifications or a "centre of excellence" in a particular region, he said. A center of excellence is a certain number of CCEI's, Business Value Practitioner Specialists (BVP's) and amount of hybrid IT offers being sold per region.
"Partner can meet the requirements via certifications at the country-level in each of our four regions or they can choose to meet the requirements in a number of competencies whether it be the CCIE's, the architecture specializations, the business value practitioners – all the things that make a Gold certification, they can do that and hub those resources into a single center of excellence, as oppose to going country-by-country in order to achieve their requirements."
Who's a Global Gold partner?
As of 23 May, Cisco said it has five certified Global Gold partners. Cisco declined to identify the five specific partners who are now Global Gold certified.
Surplus said Cisco is also currently having conversations with "a handful of other partners" around becoming Global Gold certified.
Global Gold doesn't necessarily mean highest profitably
When asked if becoming Global Gold certified was the most profitable path for a Cisco partner, Surplus said, "no."
"This is a business decision that partners need to make based on the customers they support and how they see their Cisco business playing out. So for partners who are supporting large, multi-nationals that want that consistent experience around the globe, this program fits their business needs very well," he said. "If you're a local partner supporting your customers in your local market, this may not be a path you want to go on. So it's very much up to the partners, their investment profiles and what they're profitability requirements are."
More suitable for larger partners
Cisco said the new certification is to help support partners that are actively pursuing global business are marketing globally and provide solutions to customers around the world.
"I think larger partners that support customers actively and broadly around the world and go to market in multiple countries actively around the world, will find this program most suited to their business interest. For local partners that are supporting customers in their local market, this may not make the most sense for them," he said.
No commitment lost to regional partners
Surplus made it clear that the new Global Gold certification is not a sign of Cisco lowering its commitment to its local and regional channel community.
"We are not in anyway reducing our commitment to local partners in terms of incentives to deal registration and some of our other partner programs that will allow partners to gain benefits on a global basis versus what they otherwise would have had if they were just operating in a single country," he said. " We're opening up more market accessibility."
More new certifications ahead?
Surplus hinted at potential new certifications or programs ahead targeting regional Cisco partners.
"We are also looking at ways of helping [local partners] overtime to better support their local customers that could have operations overseas as well to meet the customer requirements and needs," said Surplus.
"There are some things we're looking at in addition to this to support partners that may not want to make all the investments, or their business may not take them to true global scale, as some of the Global Gold partners will see, but still their customers and themselves want to transact business together globally. We’re doing some things that we'll be talking about in the coming months that facilitate that business for those traditional Gold partners," he said.
Cisco said the new Global Gold certification is part of Cisco's evolution to create a global business model with simple and consistent processes to enable partners to better support their customers worldwide. The overarching goal is for partners to expand their customer-base by allowing sales and technical teams to reach across borders more effectively than ever before, according to Surplus.
"The key here is for partners that want to go to market globally, who want to show that expertise that they've invested in globally -- Global Gold is an option for them. It won't fit everybody's business needs, but it is an option for partners that want to go down that path," he said. "At the same time, for a local Gold partner in-country that is trying to support a global customer, we are working on some things to make that business process for them easier as well."