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Cisco enterprise agreement refresh adds simplicity

The vendor's updated software agreement provides a broader scope of product coverage while also addressing service bundling and EA quoting.

Cisco has revamped its enterprise agreement, providing an opportunity for partners to bundle their own services and speeding up their ability to quote agreements to customers.

The Cisco enterprise agreement, or EA, has become more important in recent years amid Cisco's transition into software and subscription sales. The EA lets customers consolidate multiple subscriptions under one pact and also aims to help partners more readily propose comprehensive offerings to their clients.

The revised EA emerged at Cisco Partner Summit, an online channel conference held Nov. 9. The new agreement, which Cisco refers to as EA 3.0, provides a single set of terms and conditions across Cisco's applications infrastructure, networking infrastructure, collaboration, security and services product lines. Historically, individual Cisco products had their own EAs.

Adding products, bunding services

The unified EA helps partners add offerings to a customer's software agreement, said Diane Krakora, principal at PartnerPath, a channel consultancy in Menlo Park, Calif.

"I think the key benefit will be simplicity for the partner and the customer," she said. Partners will save a tremendous amount of time and boost their profitability, she added.

Diane KrakoraDiane Krakora

EA 3.0 also changes a customer's minimum EA spending commitment. In EA 2.0, customers had to commit to $100,000 for a single suite of software. The new agreement lets customers spread that $100,000 commitment across multiple software suites -- $50,000 on applications infrastructure and $50,000 on security, for example.

Julia Chen, vice president of global partner transformation at Cisco, said the restructured threshold "makes the EA … more accessible to partners." Presumably, channel partners will be able to offer EAs to a broader set of customers whose spending would have fallen short of the previous agreement's qualification formula.

Chen also pointed to partners' ability to bundle their higher-margin services into Cisco deals as another advantage.

I think the key benefit will be simplicity for the partner and the customer.
Diane KrakoraPrincipal, PartnerPath

Tyler Denney, director of software sales and services at NTT Ltd., an IT services provider based in London, agreed with that assessment. "One of the benefits in this new model is a better ability for partners to build in their services," Denney said. He noted that NTT offers consulting, professional, technical and managed services.

Clients also gain from the all-in-one agreements. The customers NTT has migrated to EAs have been able to save money and simplify their procurement cycles, Denney added.

Quicker quoting

Cisco's EA moves build upon steps it took last year to accelerate its software agreements, which partners said could prove time-consuming to create. At Cisco Partner Summit 2020, the vendor launched its EA Management Platform, which automates the EA process, and a pilot program for expedited quoting. The latter, dubbed Partner EA Scaling, lets partners quote EAs using the platform as opposed to working with Cisco specialists to put deals together.

Under that program, hundreds of partners over the past year have been able to "autonomously price, quote and sell the enterprise agreement," said Gary Wolfson, director of global partner software sales at Cisco.

The tool's capabilities have been further expanded under EA 3.0, according to Cisco. Dan Lohmeyer, vice president of product management at Cisco, said user- experience changes have made it faster for partners to assemble deals. Partners offering feedback on the pilot program said they could put together proposals in 15 to 30 minutes, he said.

Denney said the improvements "save us a ton of time" in turning around proposals and quotes. He cited a 30% reduction in the time it takes to quote an EA as a conservative estimate.

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