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Cisco Partner Summit 2016: what is important for your organization?

16th March 2016
by Herman Goedman
Cisco Partner Summit 2016


Two weeks ago I took part in the Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego. And not just me: there were more than 2.200 participants in total, divided over 1.000 Cisco partners. What was it that brought so many partners to San Diego? What was the most important message Cisco had for its partners? And even more important: what do Dutch and BeLux partners need to do with it?

In this blog post I will offer a summary of the summit, aimed at the most important messages to the Cisco partners. The quotes mentioned are not the exact words, but my interpretation of them.

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Cisco Partner Summit: theme and subjects

The theme of this Cisco Partner Summit was ‘Powered by Partnership’. Wendy Bahr, Senior VP Global Partner Organization, indicated that partners are making the difference. 85% of the Cisco revenue is realized by partners. Besides partnerships another 5 subjects were central:

  • Digitalization
  • Security
  • Software
  • Innovation
  • The business determines the IT investments

What opportunities do these subjects offer to the partners?


To be able to survive organizations do not have any other choice than to join the digitalization. With ‘digitalization’ Cisco means, besides the possibilities of the Internet of Everything and Internet of Things, the analysis of these data and guidance of the organization based thereon. By connecting to the world through the internet organizations gain insight in the way the business needs to be steered. Organizations that don’t follow in this development lose their position on the market. In other words: the deployment of IT determines whether an organization will meet its targets.

Everywhere in the digitalized world data is being generated, resulting in decentralized datacenters. The intelligence to analyze data and to determine the right actions from this is guided by the business. The digitalization therefore leads to a different customer demand than today and the demand comes from the business managers instead of the IT department.


Security will become crucial. Chris Dedicoat, Cisco’s Executive Vice President, promised that Cisco will become the best security provider in the world. The network is the only spot that is right for an end-to-end integrated solution and thus Cisco is well positioned to become the most important provider. The announcement of the integration of Cisco’s ASA Firewall with the SourceFire technology is an important innovation towards integrated network security.


Cisco is fully committed to software. Kelly Kramer, Cisco’s Chief Finance Officer, indicated in her presentation that 28% of the Cisco revenue at this time involves software and that the increase of the software share and recurring business models are the main focus points. New products from the Cisco Capital will help the partners to support the transition from hardware sales in one deal to software in a subscription model.

The increasing significance of software represents a change for the required knowledge of a Cisco engineer. Software knowledge will become a crucial component in this.


During every Cisco Partner Summit Cisco announces important technological innovations. The most important announcements for this year are:

  • Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI) for the Nexus7K.
  • HyperFlex: an on UCS based solution for storage, computing and networking.
  • Completely integrated solution based on SourceFire/Asa.
  • Digital Network Architecture (DNA): an architecture that offers data analysis, realizes simplicity in the roll-out based on automation, and delivers intrinsic security from the network.
  • Spark, a product that combines calling, meeting and messaging in 1 completely cloud-based platform. I predict big opportunities, especially combined with an open API and the possibility to integrate Spark with business applications.
  • The acquisition of CliQr, by which Cisco takes an important step in the automation and orchestration of applications in different clouds.

The business determines the IT investments

The most important message of Chuck Robbins, CEO, was clear: the business managers determine whether there will be investments in IT. This means that the account managers of the channel partners need to be able to speak with the client about the way IT will influence the business. It is all about adding value for the client: business outcomes.

Todd Hewlin, CEO of TCG Advisors and strategic advisor for Cisco, recommends a B4B model instead of a B2B model. Cisco and the Cisco partners should not sell to other organizations (B2B), they need to make sure that the solutions they are selling improve other organizations. So B4B instead of B2B. He explains this further in his ‘Gap-Bridge-Fish-model’. I will write a blog post that summarizes this model soon.


The current technological challenges are impossible without strong partnerships with channel partners and technology partners. Cisco gives a high priority to the profitability of the channel partners. On the other hand channel partners have to recognize that new chances are, at the same time, challenges.

All about the base

Chris Dedicoat reminded all attendants of the fact that the current installed base cannot be forgotten. With the help of the track ‘All About That Bass‘ that thought has inserted itself in everybody’s mind. And now hopefully in yours as well!

The future with Cisco

The Cisco Partner Summit gave direction to the future with Cisco. Like I said: the new chances are also challenges:

  • Network engineers need to build a solid software knowledge.
  • Account managers need to switch from product oriented sales to business outcomes.
  • The intermediary at the client will change towards the person who is responsible for the business.
  • Organizations need to develop different propositions that match the changed customer demand.

Next Cisco Partner Summit

The next Cisco Partner Summit will henceforth take place shortly after the worldwide sales meeting and thus early in the fiscal year of Cisco. The next summit is from 1 to 3 November. Will I meet you there?


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