Cisco plans recruiting binge for solution partners

Bruce Klein, senior vice president of Cisco's Worldwide Partner Organization,

, senior vice president of ’s Worldwide Partner Organization,

LAS VEGAS – The Cisco partner community tent is about to get a little more crowded.

At its annual Partner Summit here, Bruce Klein, senior vice president of the company’s Worldwide Partner Organization, announced the launch of a new Solution Partner program for ISVs, consultants, and other classes of partners that don’t fit into the typical reseller/solution provider model of its channel.

The company’s intent is to get closer with those whose complementary solutions will support the company’s expansion in key areas like , mobility, and , and to in turn make sure those new partners get closer with the company’s core base of resellers.

Klein said Cisco’s interest is “filling gaps” in the toolkits it brings to its partners, and that those partners are actively looking to court Cisco partners.

“We’re on a recruiting binge to fill out our partner ecosystem,” Klein told attendees. “Why do they want in? They want access to you.”

ISVs, in particular, are a significant opportunity. He said Cisco may be “late to the game” in getting closer to partners in a programmatic way, but it’s taking a different approach than most vendors who do so. In addition to helping them integrate with Cisco’s platform, Klein said Cisco will help companies integrate into Cisco-created apps through APIs, and into the network directly through network APIs, allowing to take advantage of quality of service and other network capabilities.

“Can anyone else do that? That’s differentiation that all of us can take to our customers and win more business at higher margins,” Klein said.

The new Solution Partner program will include a three-tiered structure, with Solution Partner, Preferred Solution Partner, and Strategy Solution Partner levels, with escalating benefits and incentives. The new program will sit alongside the company’s Channel Partner Program, in what Cisco is increasingly referred to as the broader .

Membership in the two programs will not be mutually exclusive, though, particularly as more solution providers add capabilities that include repeatable and “productized” intellectual property, such as software development or repeatable service portfolios.

“Many of you in this room will want to be part of that program as well,” Klein said.

Alongside the launch of the new program, Klein said the company will introduce a marketplace for its solution partners to find routes to market through its channel partner program, a sort of “match.com” for Cisco partners of different types, he said.

“My goal is to have thousands of applications in the marketplace that you can take, and figure out what fits in your portfolio,” Klein said, offering the example of the Cloundlink app offered by Cisco partner ESNA, which helps create integrations between Cisco collaboration tools and third-party applications including Google Apps and .

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