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Cisco: Partners ‘In Step’ with Transition to Software Centricity

Software Box

As many companies in the channel are doing, Cisco is undergoing a transition, from hardware to “software-centric,” and partners are and will continue to play an important role in making this process successful.

That’s according to Gary Wolfson, who recently was named Cisco’s director of global software partner development. He is part of Cisco’s global partner organization and is leading the company’s partner go-to-market and recurring-offers business.

Cisco's Gary Wolfson

Cisco’s Gary Wolfson

Last month, CNBC noted that Cisco’s stock reached a 17-year high after a Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst said the company is in the early stages of a “positive transition to software.”

Cisco has made a number of acquisitions as part of this transition, the latest being BroadSoft, which the networking giant completed earlier this month. The deal, worth $1.9 billion, puts Cisco on the fast track to having a full, multitenant SaaS collaboration solution.

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Wolfson gives an update on Cisco’s transition and talks about how many partners are transitioning — along with his company.

Channel Partners: What prompted the need for this transition that Cisco is undertaking?

Gary Wolfson: The transition that we would categorize ourselves as going through is to become a software-led, or software-centric company, and I call that out that way because that’s different from becoming a software company. Being a software-centric company and making that pivot is really building a world-class software business to complement our … hardware franchises that you’ve come to know us for. And really what’s driving this is customers. Customers are looking for new ways to consume technology, [and] they’re looking for a software experience that helps them meet their business requirements; that’s then underpinned by hardware that that software runs on.

CP: What’s the status of this transition and what all does it entail?

GW: I’d say the status is, we’re well underway in terms of our progress both from a technology and a go-to-market perspective. It entails everything from how we construct our offers that package up the way partners sell and customers consume our software, and it also has to do with the way that we actually architect our products so that the software that customers buy delivers the best experience. So it’s both a technology and go-to-market transition that we’re undertaking.

CP: What role do Cisco’s partners play in this transition? Are there new opportunities for them?

GW: In so many ways, partners at the heart of this transition and our go-to-market. We go to market to a large degree through the channel, so helping them with this transition, and really making sure that they’re successful and profitable, is a top priority for all of our executives here at Cisco.

We have a number of our partners that have embarked on this journey with us, and the ones that we’re finding are most successful are investing in a number of key areas of their practice. They’re investing in …

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