Blog index > Archives > Posts Tagged ‘Cisco Premier’
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Cisco Continuous Learning: how do you monitor the progress?

Monday, November 7th, 2016

Cisco Continuous LearningRecently I wrote a blog post on Continuous Learning: what is it, why did Cisco introduce it and how does it work exactly? In this blog post I will expand on the monitoring of the progress.

  • How can you find out how many Cisco Continuous Learning points your organization has obtained until now?
  • Where can you find what activities generate points?
  • How can you see what has been done by which employee?

Cisco Continuous Learning: the dashboard

Cisco has built a dashboard that allows you to find all this information in a quick and easy way. This dashboard can be found in Partner Self Service under the tab ‘Program Management & Application’.

Cisco Continuous Learning: how many points did your organization obtain?

After opening the tab you will see the architecture specializations, the technology specializations and the other programs your organization is certified in. Behind those you will find the ‘Anniversary Date’: the date of expiration of an obtained certification. This date is important, because in the Cisco Continuous Learning program obtaining a certain amount of points is mandatory for every renewal after 31st October 2016.

When you click on a certain specialization you will be shown the details of that specialization. You will see the amount of points that is required to obtain the specialization ánd you will see the amount of points your organization has already obtained.

Cisco Continuous Learning: what activities provide points?

A bit below the required and obtained amounts of points you will find the option to click to the Cisco Continuous Learning Library. There you will find an overview of all activities and knowledge sessions with which you can obtain points, within that specific specialization, that will count for the Cisco Continuous Learning program.

At this moment it is not (yet) possible to click to SalesConnect to start the knowledge session immediately. Perhaps Cisco will implement this possibility in a later stage. For now the easiest way is to copy and paste the title of the knowledge session of your choice in the search box in SalesConnect. When you have found the right knowledge session you can start it by means of the ‘view’ button. The difference between ‘view’ and ‘download’ can be found in my previous blog post.

Cisco Continuous Learning: which employee has done what?

Below the tab ‘Program Management & Application’ in the menu you can find a Cisco Continuous Learning overview. When you click on this you will be shown the specializations again for which your organization is certified, with the required and obtained amounts of points. At the right side you will find the option ‘Continuous Learning Detailed Overview’. When you click on this an Excel file will be opened with an overview of all completed activities and knowledge sessions, including the name of the employee and the obtained amount of points per activity.

Other questions concerning Cisco Continuous Learning?

These are the answers to the questions that are most frequently asked of me. Do you have other questions? Please let me know. I will be glad to help!

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Continuous Learning: new for Cisco partners

Monday, August 29th, 2016

Last year Cisco announced ‘Continuous Learning’ as a new component of the Cisco partner program. What is it? And more important: what does it actually mean for your organization and for you as employee?

Why Continuous Learning?

With Continuous Learning Cisco wants to achieve that partners keep on developing themselves all the time. The developments in the IT world succeed one another rapidly and partners will have to keep up with their knowledge constantly.

What is Continuous Learning?

But what is it exactly? Continuous Learning is a rating system wherein numerous knowledge-related activities (so-called knowledge sessions) are awarded with points. E-learning modules, video’s, instructor-led training or workshops for instance. Everything that is aimed at the broadening and deepening of the knowledge of the partners, for both the account managers and the engineers. The knowledge sessions are connected to one or more Architectural Specializations.

A partner collects points by letting its employees partake in the knowledge sessions. Those points are necessary for the partner to extend its specialization(s), the so-called ‘renewal’. Every specialization has a minimal amount of points that need to be collected in the 12 months previous to the renewal. The collected points will be set back to zero after the renewal.

How will Continuous Learning influence the existing Cisco partner program?

Continuous Learning is an addition to the existing Cisco partner program that stays the same in all other aspects. The conditions required of account managers, system engineers and field engineers for obtaining a Technology or Architecture Specialization and the conditions surrounding Hybrid IT will continue to exist. But on the other hand, the introduction of the no-retest strategy by Cisco will also ensure that the partners save time.

What does Continuous Learning have to do with the no-retest strategy?

Cisco accounced Continuous Learning at the same time as the no-retest strategy. The no-retest strategy entails that employees of Cisco partners will not need to retake exams that have not or hardly changed. (attention: this does not apply to career and specialists certifications!) Instead of retaking the same exam once more Continuous Learning will ensure that partners are able to obtain new knowledge. So yes, Continuous Learning is an addition to the existing Cisco partner program, but with the no-retest strategy on the other hand Cisco ensures that partners will save time and money.

Continuous Learning: how does it work exactly?

There are 5 Architecture Specializations within the Cisco partner program:

  • Collaboration
  • Enterprise Networks
  • Security
  • Data Center
  • Service Provider

Every architecture has focus areas. For instance: the architecture Security has the following focus areas:

  • Next Generation Firewall & IPS
  • Policy & Access
  • Web & Email Security
  • Advanced Threats

Within every focus area knowledge sessions are defined that will be awarded with 1, 5, 10 or 20 points, depending on the duration. All training courses (and accompanying focus areas and architectures) are located in SalesConnect, the successor of the Partner Education Connection (PEC).

In SalesConnect you can select and start (‘view’) or download (‘download’) a knowledge session. Attention: the start of a knowledge session will be registered in the system, but not the download. The download option is meant for attending sessions that prepare for an online assessment. After successfully taking the online assessment the points will be registered after all.

How many points will your organization need to collect in 1 year?

A partner that wants to obtain or renew an Architecture Specialization will need to collect 100 points per specialization. Technology Specializations require 80 points per specialization and Express Specializations require 40 points per specialization. This goes for every specialization that needs to be extended after October 31, 2016. However, as a transitional measure half of those points will suffice for renewals between October 31, 2016 and January 28, 2017.

SpecializationRequired points at renewalRequired points during the transitional period (October 31, 2016 till January 28, 2017)
Architecture Specialization10050
Technology Specialization8040
Express Specialization4020

What measures will your organization need to take now?

  1. Determine when your specializations will need to be renewed.
  2. Is this in the near future? (November 2016 till January 2017) In that case, draw up a plan at short notice that contains the relevant focus areas and which employees will be given a role, and determine how you will keep track of the progress.
  3. Is this in the long term? In that case the same measures apply, but you will have more time to conduct them.

My advice: don’t miscalculate the time demand. 1 point will readily equal 1 hour.

Soon I will write a blog post about progress monitoring, as it is available in Partner Self Service.

Do you have questions about Continuous Learning in the meantime? Let me know. I will be happy to advise you!

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Cisco Data Center: changes in the partner specializations

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Cisco Data CenterCisco has made some changes in the Advanced Data Center specializations in the partner program recently. What will change exactly and what is the impact of those changes on the current status of your organization and the plans in the pipeline?

Cisco partner program in a nutshell

The partner program aims to clarify the knowledge that is necessary for being successful as a Cisco partner. The program ties in with the 5 most important solutions within an organization:

  • Routing & Switching
  • Collaboration
  • Security
  • Data Center
  • Service Provider

Every solution has its own specializations and every specialization has different roles:

  • Account Manager
  • Systems Engineer
  • Field Engineer

There are individual certifications, exams and courses attached to a role.

Obtaining specializations leads to obtaining Cisco partner certifications, like Premier or Gold. It also leads to a discount on the acquisition of Cisco products, both on the purchase as in the form of back-end rebates. Thus developing knowledge that is necessary for passing exams often pays itself off within half a year.

Specializations for Cisco Data Center

For those partners that focus on Data Center there are 3 different specializations:

The Unified Fabric Specialization is aimed on the deployment of Nexus switching in the data center. The Unified Computing Specialization focuses on the UCS solution. The Data Center Architecture combines both technology specializations.

An organization that meets the conditions of a specialization shows that it has the in-house know-how to sell, design, implement and manage Cisco Date Center solutions.

Specializations for Cisco Data Center: what has changed?

Account Manager
The follow-up exams 650-987 and 646-985 that were obligated earlier are not part of the program anymore. The exam Cisco Selling Business Outcomes (810-403) is now sufficient for all three the Data Center specializations.

Systems Engineer
Similar to the account manager the exam 650-987 will also be abolished for the systems engineer. Obtaining the exams 642-996 (Designing Cisco Unified Fabric) and 642-998 (Designing Cisco UCS) suffices.

Field Engineer
There are no changes for the field engineer. However, it became clear recently that the required specialization for this role cannot be renewed by obtaining a CCIE Written exam. So this means that field engineers need to make sure that the exams 642-999 (UCS implementation), 642-035 (UCS-troubleshooting), 642-997 (Unified Fabric implementation) and 642-980 (Unified Fabric-troubleshooting) stay valid.

What is the impact of these changes?

Is your organization compliant of this moment? In other words: does your organization possess the required Cisco Data Center specializations? In that case these changes will not have any impact.

If your organization is on its way to obtaining one of the Cisco Data Center specializations it is recommended to make sure whether the account managers or system engineers have planned one of the above mentioned abolished exams. In that case those exams no longer need to be taken of course.

More information on the Advanced Data Center Architecture Specialization, the Unified Computing Technology Specialization and the Unified Fabric Technology Specialization can be found on the Fast Lane website. Of course it is also possible to turn to your account manager or myself if you have any questions. We will be happy to advise you.

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Value Incentive Program (VIP): increase the profitability of your organization

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Value Incentive Program (VIP)Cisco offers several so-called incentive programs: programs that may lead to an extra discount on Cisco-products. In this post I will look closer at one of these programs: the Value Incentive Program (VIP).

During my conversations with Cisco partners, in which I advise them on the Cisco partner program, I have noticed that this particular program is still largely unknown or unclear. Which is a shame, for the program may provide an organization with a large amount of extra discount. Therefore I will give an overview of the possibilities and conditions.

What is the Value Incentive Program?

The Value Incentive Program (VIP) is a back-end rebate program. Quite a few difficult words to start with, I know. A back-end rebate program means that the discount (rebate) on sold products will be extended after the products are delivered (back-end).

The size of the discount is 20% max and depends on the nature of the product. The program is divided in periods of 3 months or 6 months and the discount will be determined on the basis of product sales in those 3 or 6 months.

Currently running is VIP25, which means: the 25th VIP program. The 3 month VIP25 runs from April until July 2015 and the 6 month VIP25 runs from January until July 2015.

The VIP program is divided in Tracks and Sub-tracks. An example of a Track is Data Center and an example of a Data Center Sub-track is Unified Computing Systems (UCS). Every Sub-track consists of several products that fall within the VIP discount deal. One of the products that falls under the Sub-track UCS is for instance UCS Director.

How can you take part in the Value Incentive Program?

An organization that wants to take part in the Value Incentive Program needs to sign in at Cisco. You can do this on the Cisco website under Partner Program Enrollment (PPE). You’ll find several incentive programs under PPE. Search for ‘potential programs’ and consequently on ‘VIP25’.

Can all organizations take part in the Value Incentive Program?

No. To take part you need to be a Cisco partner, possess certain specializations or ATP certifications (like ATP ISE or ATP TelePresence Video Master), meet certain purchase volumes and submit 10 customer satisfaction surveys, the so-called CSATs.

It is not always necessary to possess specializations or certifications at the time you sign in. Sometimes it is only required to fulfill the expertise conditions at the end of the VIP period. Make sure you are well advised on these matters.

What specializations or certifications does an organization require?

The kind of specialization or certification depends solely on the Track(s) and Sub-track(s) that are chosen by the organization. There is always a connection between the Track, the Sub-track and the required specialization. The Sub-track UCS is for instance connected to the specialization Advanced Unified Computing Technology: to be eligible for the VIP discount on products that fall under the Sub-track UCS an organization thus needs to possess this specialization.

Cisco Gold partners who meet the requirements of the Cisco partner program will almost always meet the required specializations in the VIP program. After all, gold partners possess a broad spectrum of specializations.

Cisco Premier partners however need to look closely whether already acquired specializations are sufficient for a (Sub-)Track in the VIP program. When a partner has obtained the Premier certification with the Express Foundation specialization the partner will not be able to take part in VIP program with a Collaboration Track without obtaining the Collaboration specializations first.

By adding expertise conditions to the VIP program Cisco shows that it wants to reward partners who offer complete Cisco solutions and provide added value to their customers. Hence the word ‘value’ in Value Incentive Program.

What purchase volumes does an organization need?

Like the kind of specialization that is required, the size of the purchase volumes depends on the Track(s) and Sub-track(s) that are chosen by the organization. Within the Sub-track UCS for instance a Dutch Cisco partner needs to purchase $ 57.500 in products to meet the minimum volume. For precise purchase volumes of the other Tracks and Sub-tracks ask Cisco.

My advise to Cisco partners

I hope I have given you a clear overview of the possibilities and requirements of the Value Incentive Program in this blog post. For additional information you can consult the Cisco website.

Does your organization already take part in VIP program? In that case evaluate regularly to be sure that you take part in the right Track(s) and Sub-track(s). Do you get the maximum discount from the program?

Doesn’t your organization take part as yet? In that case consider the gains of taking part, but also what investment will be necessary to meet the expertise conditions.

If you have any questions concerning this post, feel free to contact me.

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New video specializations for Cisco partners

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Video specializationsA few years ago Cisco took over Tandberg, one of the most prominent suppliers of video solutions. With this Cisco took an important step in the world of video solutions. The integration of the existing Tandberg and Cisco partners in one partner program led to the introduction of 3 Authorized Technology Provider (ATP) programs. On July 25, 2015 those programs will cease to exist.

What are the consequences of the cancellation of these ATP programs? Which new video specializations will be replacing them? What will be expected of Cisco partners that have these ATP certifications? I will explain it in this blog post.

What will happen on July 24, 2015?

On July 25, 2015 the ATP programs TelePresence Video Advanced, TelePresence Video Advanced Plus and TelePresence Video Express will be cancelled. This will also apply for the connected satellite programs. The ATP program TelePresence Video Master will continue to exist and will be actualized so that the program will cover the newest high-end products.

All existing ATP TelePresence certifications that expire after April 1, 2015 will be extended until July 25, 2015. On that date the Cisco partners will need to adhere to the new conditions.

New video specializations: Express Video and Advanced Video

Cisco has taken the entry and mid-range video solutions out of the ATP program and has housed them into the new specializations Express Video and Advanced Video. In contrast to an ATP program a specialization is available to all Cisco partners.

Express Video specialization

With the attainment of the Express Video specialization, that is focused on the entry level products from the video program, an organization will also immediately obtain the Select certification. Role sharing is not allowed, which means that a specialization cannot be filled by one employee.

Advanced Video specialization

With the attainment of the Advanced Video specialization, that is focused on the mid-range products from the video program, an organization can obtain the Premier certification. Premier partners need to fulfil additional conditions next to the attainment of the specialization. I will return to these additional conditions, like the conditions concerning Cloud services and Hybrid IT, in a later blog post. Role sharing is not allowed within the Advanced Video specialization either.

Renewed: ATP program TelePresence Video Master

Cisco has renewed the ATP program TelePresence Video Master. Next to the roles of account manager, system engineer and field engineer this program has a 4th role: the role of project manager. Role sharing is not allowed, except for the role of project manager; that role can be shared with any other role.

Before the ATP TelePresence Video Master can be obtained an organization needs to have the specialization Express Collaboration or Advanced Collaboration Architecture.

Satellite program ATP Telepresence Video Master Satellite

The satellite program for TelePresence Video Master is also renewed. A satellite program is meant for organizations that are active in various European countries. One country will function as a host and will comply to the conditions of the ATP program TelePresence Video Master, while the other countries can suffice with compliance to the conditions of the satellite program.

The differences with the ATP program aren’t really big. The certification conditions for the account manager, system engineer and field engineer are exactly the same. Role sharing between the account manager and the system engineer is however permitted in satellite program and the role of project manager doesn’t exist.

Keep your eye on the deadline

Cisco partners that want to obtain one of the video specializations or want to apply for the ATP certification TelePresence Video Master need to fulfil the above mentioned certification conditions by July 25, 2015.

My advice: keep your eye on that deadline and don’t wait too long with undertaking action. The additional courses are limited and only possible to take at a certain amount of central locations in Europe, like Berlin or London.

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