MONTREAL – Cisco is making it a little bit easier for partners to stay at the top tiers of its program, dropping requirements for Gold and Master partners to conduct annual audits.
Partners in those top tiers will now have to go through a full Cisco audit once every three years, worldwide channel chief Bruce Klein announced in a presentation to the 2,000-plus Cisco partners gathered here, earning a loud and positive reaction from the partner community. Klein said the vendor heard partner complaints that it was taking a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of effort to complete the audit, which is required to earn top-tier status in the Cisco program, and which has heretofore been required every year thereafter to stay in the top tiers.
Partners aspiring to move up a level in the program will still have to go through an audit to receive recognition from Cisco. But once a partner has achieved recognition, the full audit will only be required every three years.
“[Partners] don’t want thousands of competitors all in the same field. But they are asking us that once they’re in the club, they get treated like a member of that club,” said Steve Benvenuto, senior director of business development for the worldwide partner organization at Cisco.
Cisco’s audits require a significant investment in time, money, and resources for partners, and are quite comprehensive, examining everything from a partners certifications to its process and policies for sales, deployment, and support. Kent MacDonald, vice president of converged infrastructure at Calgary-based Long View Systems, said his organization’s investment spent north of $100,000 preparing for a recent audit to achieve the Cisco Hybrid IT Gold specialization. While MacDonald said that investment was well worth it, and helped Long View improve its processes and increase its efficiency, not having to repeat that process – and investment – every year to stay in the top tiers is an appreciated change.