Cisco’s master move in combining cloud & managed services channel programs

by Anurag Agrawal, CEO, Techaisle    Dec 03, 2012

Anurag Agrawal TechaisleCisco has announced a new Cloud and Managed Services Program (CMSP) that integrates its currently existing Cloud Provider, Cloud Services and Managed Services Channel Programs (MSCP) into one. Besides streamlining incentives, discounts and payments for its partners, the program also aims to simplify pricing for Cisco-based cloud and managed services offerings. The program will also enable collaboration and sharing of complementary opportunities between partners through a microsite via Cisco’s partner portal. All partners are expected to transition to the CMSP by August 2013.

Techaisle Take
We believe that with one master move Cisco is strategically addressing the US$94 billion global SMB opportunity by 2016.

Techaisle’s global channel surveys have shown that Cloud, Mobility, and Managed Services Solutions together are changing the SMB channel landscape as these solutions are revolutionizing IT utilization by SMBs. The new paradigm would be the “3-in-1″ Channels offering Mobility, Cloud, and Managed Services as a single offering. We first wrote about the 3-in-1 channel here.

Techaisle’s corresponding SMB research has consistently shown that SMBs want mostly integrated solutions to limit complexity and therefore seek partners that are capable of such deliverables but very few partners currently do so as they are all camped in either one or two solution corners and few seem to embrace a holistic solution view – and this is making SMBs unsure of overall benefits and desire to spend.

With its current announcement Cisco is removing some of the barriers by bringing channel partners serving managed services and cloud needs of SMBs under a common cluster. Since many SMBs want to obtain all services from a single provider, it is important for broad product/solution vendors to evaluate all their partners, seek and cluster partners based on where they are with regards to capabilities of delivering complete solutions and introduce programs to support development. As the dividing line between cloud and managed services is becoming thin, Cisco has just done it, that is, created a single program that should:
– Enable channels to build more dynamic and serious partner-to-partner collaboration to collectively address complementary opportunities
– Enable Cisco partners to add capabilities, such as, managed services to an existing cloud services
– Attract newer partners to join Cisco program
– Help current channel partners qualify and move up Cisco’s channel partner pyramid

The data from Techaisle’s channel study (N=2851) shows that at channels that serve the SMB segment are keen to offer multiple services that straddle cloud and managed services. Cisco’s new program should open up opportunity for its channel partners to offer both cloud and managed services using Cisco platforms.

Anurag Agrawal Techaisle

If we look at the survey data at micro-level, we find that is a higher percentage of Channel Partners that are offering some type of Managed Services Solutions than they are offering Mobility Solutions or even Cloud Computing. The channels falling in the green columns will benefit immediately, those in the blue columns will find the program attractive but those within the red columns in the chart would be of immense importance.

Managed Services has been is of more critical importance for SMBs than Cloud or Mobility which is a key reason why there are more Managed Services partners than Cloud Computing providers. Additionally, Managed Services took root a few years back while Cloud Computing is a more recent phenomenon. Mobility has been in existence for a long time, however, it should be considered absolutely new in its current form with the availability & use of several mobile devices & other enabling technologies, namely Cloud & Remote Managed Services.
It is clear that Managed Services has been the most important offering for Channel Partners, as they evolved from a typical value added channel to offering break-fix services and remote managed services.

Anurag Agrawal Techaisle

The path being chosen by Channels to move from one offering to the next is strongly dependent upon their current offering. Those that are in the mobility space are moving to cloud, while those in the cloud are moving to managed services.

Understanding the channel dynamics and current offerings gives clues in the direction they will move. For those that are offering only one of the services there is a clear path to adding services. In fact Techaisle survey shows that the channels have chosen their path of selection.
Channels are also interested in offering mobility solutions, however, it is also clear that mobility has become possible due to cloud and managed services allowing employees to work from anywhere, anytime and from any device.

The responsibility now lies with both the channel partners and Cisco to make the program a success. However, there some other steps that Cisco needs to take as well.
– Extend the reach of its Smart Care to cover cloud based services
– Develop capabilities that not only work with Cisco’s networking devices but also with client devices. Although it must be said that Cisco is addressing some of those needs through its partnerships with other vendors
– Further the agenda on not only BYOD but also just BYO
– Market the program aggressively. Channel partners are being courted and trained by many other vendors
– Use the program to establish a strong presence in the datacenter space

With the latest move, Cisco may have begun to shift the tide in its favor more decisively.

The author, Anurag Agrawal is the CEO of Techaisle, a global SMB ICT Market Research and Industry Analyst Organization dedicated to tracking the future of SMBs and Channels. Anurag’s Twitter handle is @anuragtechaisle

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