Cisco Partner Program Changes Promote Cloud Building, Resale

Cisco’s Worldwide Channels’ team is eyeing the twin opportunities of cloud building and cloud services delivery and advancing its channel partner opportunities in both with updates to its Cloud Partner Program, including the introduction Wednesday of a Master Cloud Builder Specialization and a Cloud Partner Marketplace.

Susheel Citre, director of cloud go-to-market for Cisco’s worldwide channels, told Channel Partners the company estimates the market for cloud infrastructure will grow to $112 billion by 2015, while the market for cloud services will reach $113.6 billion over the next three years. This, he explained, represents opportunities for Cisco’s channel partners to sell infrastructure for private clouds, to become cloud providers or to resell cloud services of Cisco-powered service providers.

“Both markets are large and growing rapidly,” he said, noting there are workloads that make sense to deploy on and off the customer premises. “Partners need a holistic cloud strategy. It’s no longer enough to have an on-premises resale practice to but to serve the on-premises, off-premises hybrid space as well.”

The networking giant rolled out a Cloud Partner Program in spring 2011 that addressed these opportunities, including designations for Cloud Builder, Cloud Provider and Cloud Services Reseller. Today, the program has 133 approved Cloud Builders, 46 approved Cloud Providers offering more than 50 Cisco-Powered Cloud Services, and approximately 500 Cloud Services Resellers. Citre said he expects the number of resellers to swell given the number of cloud providers that are done building and ready to go to market.

Citre said the momentum is good, but Cloud Builders and Cloud Providers are asking for help to market to their prospective customers and channels. Both of the updates support those goals, he said. Additional updates are planned for Cloud Providers and Cloud Services Resellers to be announced later in 2012.

With Wednesday’s announcement, Cisco is delivering on a promise made in April at its partner summit to deliver a Master Cloud Builder Specialization. The specialization rewards channel partners that have proven capabilities to build and deploy cloud-ready integrated infrastructures using solutions from Cisco and its ecosystem partners across storage, virtualization, cloud management and virtual desktop.

“Essentially, Cisco is elevating the Cloud Builder role from a designation to a full-blown Master Cloud specialization,” explained Alexandra Krasne, Cisco’s Global Communications Manager for New Media for the Worldwide Partner Organization in a blog announcing the program changes. Cisco is no longer accepting new applications for the Cloud Builder designation.

Citre explained that the specialization combines Cisco’s existing Data Center Specialization with the Solutions expertise in VDI, Flexpod and Vblock as well as the Cloud Builder Designation. It then adds a formal audit to verify they have created a successful practice. Citre said there will be a period of 12 months for existing Cloud Builders to obtain their master specialization.

The benefits for partners in obtaining a master specialization is branding (e.g., logo) and priority engagement with Cisco sales teams, financial incentives (rebates and teaming incentives) and enablement (e.g. MDF, demand-generation, etc.)

Cisco’s second program update, the launch of the Cloud Partner Marketplace, is another new benefit under partner enablement. Essentially, it’s a microsite for each partner that enables them to post their own videos, collateral, promotions and offers which will be marketed to an audience of Cisco customers, Cisco field teams and resellers. The site is searchable by region, technologies, solutions and Cisco Powered Cloud Services.

“We hope it’s a one-stop shop for customers, Cisco sales teams and resellers,” Citre said. He noted that the site is available for cloud partners to load their information; Cisco will begin marketing the site later in the year when there is a critical mass of participants.

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