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Small-business Cisco specializations unified; plus, more news

Two small-business Cisco specializations -- the Small Business and Small Business Foundation designations -- have been unified; and, more news.

New Cisco SMB specialization

This week Cisco announced a new specialization -- the Cisco Small and Midsize Business (SMB) Specialization -- for channel partners interested in selling strategically across all technologies to the SMB market.

Topics such as borderless networks, collaboration, data center, updated services training, cloud concepts, telepresence, virtualization and data center switching will be included in the new trainings.

According to the vendor, the SMB Specialization combines two Cisco specializations -- the former Small Business (SB) and the Small Business Foundation (SBF) -- and takes the curriculum up a notch to reflect its advanced-level specializations.

Partners holding the existing SB and SBF Cisco specializations will have to take additional classes by March 3, 2014 to maintain specialization status and, therefore, the Select Certification. Cisco's Select Certification offers benefits such as Cisco branding, recognition in the Cisco Partner Locator, and access to Cisco Channel Incentive Programs.

For new SMB Specialization candidates, Cisco has significantly reduced the number of training courses from 15 to four, all of which are available on the vendor's Partner Education Connection (PEC) site.

The new specialization comes with a number of partner benefits, such as the Cisco Value Incentive Program (VIP); the Partner Helpline and distribution sales support; business planning and demand generation sales tools, such as collateral and Web content; and eligibility to sell Cisco Smart Care Service.

SMB Specialization holders will be eligible to apply for the Cisco Select Certification.

New channel executive at Brocade

Brocade Communications Systems Inc. continues to shuffle its top executives. Bill Lipsin is the new vice president (VP) of worldwide channels and global systems integrator sales at Brocade, according to an announcement that went out this week.

Lipsin will be responsible for working with the company's channel organization, providing direction and management of all sales and business development operations.

According to Brocade, a top priority for the new VP will be to enable partners and global systems integrators to address timely industry trends, such as data center virtualization, cloud computing and software-defined networking.

Regan McGrath -- who was appointed VP of global channels sales and marketing in May 2012 and is a 13-year veteran at Brocade -- is now VP of sales for the Americas.

In his new role, McGrath will be working with both the direct-touch sales team and Brocade partners.

Prior to his appointment at Brocade, Lipsin was the global VP of channels and alliances at Arbor Networks.

Avnet signs agreement with Nimble Storage

Avnet Technology Solutions this week signed a distribution agreement with Nimble Storage to sell its portfolio of hybrid storage arrays.

Nimble, a provider of flash-optimized hybrid storage systems, will offer its converged infrastructure product called SmartStack -- consisting of a pre-validated reference architecture that leverages Nimble Storage CS-Series storage arrays and best-of-breed partner systems from companies including VMware, Cisco, Citrix, Microsoft and CommVault -- for distribution through Avnet.

The distribution agreement also provides partners with a dedicated Nimble team; training and demand generation programs; quote and configuration support; and configuration services and testing validation for SmartStack systems, according to Avnet.

Tech Data partners with MessageOps

Tech Data Corp.'s TDCloud business unit will now offer MessageOps' 365 Command, a hosted cloud management platform for managing Microsoft Office 365 subscriptions.

365 Command helps service providers manage customers' Microsoft Office 365 accounts by simplifying administration tasks and troubleshooting, according to the vendor.

For starters, the service replaces the command-line interface of Windows Powershell with an HTML 5 Web interface. It also provides reports in detailed charts, graphs and analytics, and offers an optional 365 Command Active Directory add-in to perform additional administrative tasks through Active Directory.

The service is available through TDCloud's Solutions Store.

Novus partners with IntelePeer for SIP trunks

Novus LLC, a distributor of IP and telecommunication services, will now resell Microsoft Lync CoreCloud SIP trunking services from IntelePeer Inc.

IntelePeer, a cloud communications company, recently announced its CoreCloud SIP trunking services were qualified for interoperability with the Microsoft Lync 2013 unified communications (UC) platform. The services were already qualified for interoperability with Microsoft Lync 2010, whether those deployments were on-premises or through an application host.

According to IntelePeer, CoreCloud SIP trunks support all Lync features and deployment options and can support thousands of Lync UC users.

Novus is looking to expand its base of Microsoft partners selling Lync technologies.

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