Cisco’s big challenge

Cisco is a hardware company that is facing a software challenge as the move towards a software-defined network (SDN) strikes at the heart of its business model. So what does the networking giant have up its sleeves and what can channel partners expect as the company navigates through these market shifts in the region?

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Cisco’s big challenge
By  Manda Banda Published  January 31, 2016

The idea is that customers will be able to move workloads across different public and private clouds through a technology called the Cisco Intercloud fabric. The goal, however, is not for Cisco to become the next Amazon Web Services (AWS) or to follow a strictly public cloud play, according to the networking giant.

Intercloud is a step beyond a public cloud stated the vendor, and wants partners to treat Intercloud as Cisco services delivered from a cloud: hosted communication, security and collaboration.

Dabboussi said although market disruptions could be looked at as a threat to business, Cisco views them as an opportunity. “Cisco has always looked beyond the curve and kept innovating to be prepared for technology disruptions. That means making tough decisions and immersing ourselves in a process of disrupting the market, which at times disrupts our business too. That is why Cisco keeps transforming its entire business, expanding to capture growth and thinking very differently about the future of IT,” he said.

He said key to Cisco’s success has been the company’s willingness to always to be ahead of its industry peers by launching disruptive technologies, which sometimes are several years ahead. “The decision to transform is tough as the company has to transition from selling a profitable product to a new disruptive technology, which could affect our existing product line. However, these shifts are critical for Cisco to stay ahead of the curve,” he said.

One thing that consistently comes out from channel partners in the Middle East is that they are overwhelmed by the level of opportunity, from smart city projects, cloud, mobility, security, big data, social, video and healthcare. However, most are challenged by the sheer opportunity and where to start from and how to prioritise. Guiding partners on the right path is vital if Cisco is going to continue to dominate the networking and infrastructure space.

Dabboussi explained that when you look at the macroeconomics of the region, nations are adopting a digital strategy to accelerate economic growth and advance in delivering services to citizens. “Healthcare, education, national safety and security, and innovation are top priorities consistent amongst most of the governments in this region,” he observed. “We need to build the expertise and capabilities that will allow us to advise, help, build out and continue the journey of the interactive process of infrastructure and IT solutions.

“Our traditional partners should look at forging new alliances with industry leaders and try to devise plans to align with manufacturers of automation systems of industries like oil and gas, transportation, aviation and manufacturing, where were collaboration is enhanced to building solutions for public-private partnerships,” he remarked.

Dabboussi said going forward, Cisco wants to be the most strategic partner in helping reseller partners and their customers address changing market conditions, enable flexible consumption models and achieve desired business outcomes. “We are igniting the Cisco partner ecosystem around software and cloud. Cisco recently introduced new and evolved partner programmes designed to help partners build out their software practices and further expand hybrid IT capabilities,” he pointed out. “Our Cisco Software Partner Programme helps current and new partners capture profitable revenue streams and build competencies around software.”

He said part of Cisco’s strategy is to align its resources and investments to areas which can deliver the desired business goals. “Software is part of that strategy and the good news about it is that it is a higher margin and subscription-based business that is more predictable. You’ll see us continue to invest and move there,” he said.

Dabboussi said over the past couple of years, Cisco has doubled down on software innovations through new product introductions, including Cisco ONE Software Suites, Cisco Connected Analytics and Cisco Cloud Suite. “Our actions reinforce our words by demonstrating a commitment to enabling customer transformation, harnessing new growth opportunities, and providing greater agility through software,” he said. “This scheme provides partners with enablement resources, incentives, benefits and rewards to capitalise on the large software opportunity. This programme is intended to provide multiple opportunities for partners to monetise software and build their practices across the entire Cisco software portfolio.”

He said the ultimate goal is to see solution providers grow deal sizes by adding more value through selling software tied to business outcomes and expand software adoption and renewals with lifecycle management services.

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