Cisco Partner Summit: Spark Incentive Highlights Day 3

**Editor’s Note: Click here to read our extensive coverage of Cisco Partner Summit 2015.**

Lorna GareyCISCO PARTNER SUMMIT — Wednesday’s general keynote here in Montreal brought a parade of Cisco senior vice presidents to discuss specifics on new offerings.

Rob Lloyd, president of development and sales, moderated a series of mini sessions on security, ACI, Intercloud and collaboration.

The biggest applause, however, came at the end of the sessions when Rowan Trollope, senior VP and general manager of the collaboration technology group, announced that partners will have free access to Cisco’s full collaboration portfolio for up to 250 users, plus $1 million in new incentives to sign up customers to Spark.

Other announcements:

1. Rob Soderbery, senior VP of enterprise products and solutions, announced integration of the FirePOWER Next Generation Intrusion Prevention System (NGIPS) with the Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) platform. FirePOWER NGIPS was part of Cisco’s Sourcefire acquisition and comprises physical and virtual appliances and a management interface to combat threats. The ACI integration provides deeper hooks into the network, a fact Soderbery emphasized.

“The network is a secret weapon,” he said. “The network can act as a sensor. The network can be an enforcer.”

The package will be available in June.

2. Soni Jiandani, senior VP of marketing for the Insieme business unit, followed Soderbery and announced that ACI is now fully PCI-compliant.

Jiandani said enterprises will spend $11.6 billion by the end of 2016 modernizing data centers, largely updating to leaf-spine architectures and higher-speed Ethernet. The PCI compliance should help partners capture that business, especially in retail verticals.

3. Nick Earle, senior VP of global cloud and managed services, said Intercloud has added 60-plus global partners, including Telstra, Logicalis, Dimension Data, NTT Data, Peak 10, Tech Data, CDW, Ingram Micro and Sungard.

“Fifty million things are being IP-enabled every week,” Earle said. That represents business in cloud, security and analysis. To help partners grab a chunk of the cloud ops, Earle announced:

  • Cisco Cloud Consumption as a Service, which crawls the network and identifies what cloud services are being used, which apps reside in which cloud, what is and isn’t encrypted, and how much the customer is paying. The service delivers a risk assessment, including benchmarking the customer’s stance versus peers. Cisco says analysis usually reveals that companies are using five to 10 times more cloud services than the CIO thought; the service could pay for itself in shops where shadow IT is a real problem.
  • Cisco One Enterprise Cloud Suite, announced at Cisco Milan, is now shipping. Solutions providers can use the suite to help customers …
  • … build their own hybrid private clouds and spin up an internal cloud store/service catalog where end users can download IT-approved and -managed public and private cloud services and apps. Earle offered the Cisco Energy Management Suite as an example of an application that could help customers manage the millions of things related to power use.
  • Finally, he encouraged partners to help enterprises build their own clouds using the Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud Bundle, which is based on Cisco’s Metacloud acquisition. The bundle includes resources for developers to build cloud-native apps and provides recurring subscription revenue for partners. “This is not a covert direct sales model,” said Earle. “Your customer goes through you.”

All are either available now or will be by summer.

4. Edzard Overbeek, senior VP, Cisco services, next addressed the challenge of getting insight from big data and reiterated the network theme.

“Every piece of data goes through the network,” said Overbeek. “We see it, we touch it.”

He outlined some business initiatives that could be enabled by doing analytics at the edge using Cisco’s Connected Analytics portfolio, which Overbeek says will yield margins of 9 percent or better for partners and open the door to sell direct to line-of-business leaders. The offering was announced in December and ties into the IoT push. Cisco’s logic is that doing analysis at the edge, rather than moving data to a central repository, can deliver insights in seconds rather than minutes or hours; Overbeek cited an example of a retailer being able to offer its best customers reserved parking on the fly by sensing when a patron’s car is circling a busy lot.

The op for partners is to sell analytics software and integration services, with a focus on verticals. Channel providers with scarce and expensive data science expertise will have an edge.

5. Rowan Trollope, senior VP and GM of the collaboration technology group, wrapped up the session by using an impact wrench and pit-crew analogy to illustrate why adaptability is better than efficiency. Trollope also did a live demo of Spark — with some glitches thanks to iffy Wi-Fi in the keynote theater. We covered the details of Spark here; new at the show was the announcement of free access to the full collaboration suite for partners and $1 million in incentives to sell Spark. The moves make sense for partners; by getting employees accustomed to Spark and then selling customers on the open system, they can increase engagement and stickiness.

Follow executive editor @LornaGarey on Twitter.

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