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Cisco Smart Services: Partners can customize with open APIs

At Cisco Partner Summit 2012, the company extended its Cisco Smart Services plan, promising to make management services more customizable and simpler to maneuver.

SAN DIEGO -- At the Cisco Partner Summit in San Diego this month, the company launched a simplified Cisco Smart Services portfolio that will open APIs on remote managed services to allow partners to better customize their offerings.

Cisco's newly dubbed Global Services Partner Program services program will start by opening up Simple Object Access Protocol-based APIs that give partners access to information on physical, chassis and module-level hardware and EoX software. This will, for example, enable partners to tailor field notice, security alerts and known bugs for a given device.

These new device diagnostic capabilities can be incorporated into annuity-based cloud and managed service offerings and stretch across technology families, ranging from security to unified communications and wireless.

"For the last three or four years, I have seen services come onto the main stage. Cisco's investment in enabling partners to move to the higher-value services space is pretty significant, and they've made a strong commitment to programs, policies and tools to help partners be successful in that journey," said Leslie Rosenberg, research manager for Network Lifecycle Services at IDC.

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Cisco originally rolled the Services Partner Program out to 2,500 partners across the U.S. and Canada in 2011, but will now extend it globally within the next 12 to 18 months. North American partners who are already selling the services portfolio have experienced a 15% increase in the portion of their bookings that are eligible for rebates, compared to past programs.

The expansion is due to partner demand, says Raja Sundaram, vice president of Cisco's worldwide service partner organization. Services make up 50% of channel partner business, up from 20% five years ago.

Striving for simplicity in Cisco Smart Services

Cisco also aims to simplify its support service offerings by consolidating 47 former service programs into one. Many of these 47 services had evolved around various technology groups or acquisitions. Now they'll be integrated so that partners can use a basic model across the technology spectrum. 

"We [embraced] portions of some of those programs, like discount rates and shared support, and consolidated them into one consistent model that aligns with all of our channels. This drives the level of differentiation for partners," said Sundaram.

Cisco partners can either resell SmartNet Total Care as a complete packaged service, or they can integrate elements of the Smart Services portfolio into their own existing platforms and then self-brand the offering.

"This program puts the power in the hands of the partners and how much they want to differentiate themselves," Sundaram said.

Some partners who have tried the new services have already seen success with the newly expanded Smart Services program.

"Cisco really listened to what we wanted and allowed us to sell services with some Cisco ingredients," said Mike Gaumond, senior vice president of services at Insight Enterprises, a Cisco partner.

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