Cisco Systems, Inc. announced this morning that it is introducing a new, entry-level partner certification level and a host of new products all designed to help it expand its presence in the small- and medium-sized business market.
Cisco’s SMB announcement this morning at its Partner Summit in Las Vegas included the announcement of its SMB Specialization for channel partners – the first time Cisco has designated a certification for a segment of the market rather than a technical specialty.
The announcemend also included a package of products designed for networks of 16 users or fewer, including the previously announced Unified Communications 500 series, which supports both softphone and dual-mode phone voice-over-IP networks, and is designed to be simple enough to use that no IT specialist is required.
The SMB package also included the Catalyst Express 520, a Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch designed for Cisco VOIP phones, the 521 Wireless Express Access Point and 526 Express Mobility Controller. Together those two wireless LAN components are designed to create dynamic wireless networks with – again – little help from IT specialists.
Cisco also announced new versions of its Configuration Assistant and Monitor Director/Monitor Manager, which provide real-time monitoring and troubleshooting that is usually provided by channel companies.
The new Select certification adds a new tier to Cisco’s Certified Partner program, which currently includes Gold, Silver and Premier levels, plus Registered partners that sign up as resellers, but aren’t eligible for most of the training, discount or rebate programs available to Certified partners.
Cisco execs said they expect about half the 10,000 Registered partners to move up to Select. Members of Cisco’s SMB Select program – its current SMB-focused channel category – will have six months to qualify as Select partners.
Achieving Select status requires an SMB Specialization certification – which means passing a series of training sessions and exams focused on the sales and technical skills required to serve SMB customers.
In return, partners will get access to partner-development funds to help generate demand and prospect for new customers, as well as access to the new SMB Opportunity Incentive Program, which rewards SMB-focused VARs for finding and landing new customers. Select partners also get access to other Cisco incentive programs, including Cisco Capital’s Easy Lease program, which helps fund projects for SMB VARs without requiring hefty upfront payments for all the equipment involved. (Also see Cisco to extend SMB leasing through Ingram Micro partners.)
The SMB specialty is Cisco’s first to focus on the size of a market rather than its technical specialty. It has introduced several technical specialty certifications during the past year, in an attempt to expand sales in security, voice-over-IP and other areas. (See also Smaller VARs annoyed at Cisco’s Master VoIP certification.)
Cisco channel chief Keith Goodwin said the SMB specialty is a continuation of Cisco’s effort to expand its share in the SMB market, which has been weak compared to its dominance in other areas.
“We’re putting a strong marketing focus on that space,” Goodwin told SearchNetworkingChannel.com at the company’s C-Scape analyst conference in San Jose, Calif. in December. “We need to double our SMB resellers. We don’t want all our partners to go there, but we want to build up classes such as distributor affiliates and get them into the Cisco business model where they can grow profitably.”“Cisco didn’t focus on SMB a few years ago,” Goodwin said. “Now, for the first time we’re building purpose-built products for the SMB space and our partners can take advantage of disruptive technology, such as unified communications, to grow their businesses.”
Behavior blocking and heuristics are the next next big thing in malware prevention strategy. It’s like when Prince was singing about 1999 in 1983. One AV vendor using these technologies is San Mateo, Calif.-based behavioral security company Sana Security.
Yesterday, Sana Security announced that they have hired Don Listwin as their new CEO. According to the press release, “In his new position, Listwin will focus on company financing, formulating strategy, and developing partner relationships.”
The company has also closed in on $12 million in funding to fuel a massive expansion.
ZDNet blogger Ryan Naraine thinks that the company will quickly become a prime target for acquisition since the company’s main focus, behavior blocking software, will soon be a necessary component in successful antivirus suites.
My advice to you: Get in while the getting is good. Stay a step ahead. Learn about Sana’s partner program, and compare it to the partner programs of other security vendors with the partner program checklists on SearchSecurityChannel.com. Then you can party like it’s 1999 in 2007 when you’ve impressed your customers with forward thinking.
Do you think that something else is the next next big thing? Let us know, and we’ll help you navigate the details.
Blogger posts Windows Vista SP1 fixes on Web site The owner of the Hotfix blog has posted over 100 fixes he says he received from someone close to Microsoft who has access to the collection, expected to be released in the latter half of 2007. If the information’s legit, where are the security patches? [Computerworld]
Microsoft sued over ‘Vista Capable’ claims Microsoft deceived customers by allowing PC makers to label computers as “Windows Vista Capable” even though they couldn’t handle Vista’s key features, according to lawsuit lodged in the US. [ITWire]
Microsoft targets more software pirates Legal action aimed at groups that sold copies of Windows and Office discounted for academic use to regular users. [CNET]
Xerox Corp. has announced its intention to buy document-management and print-services provider Global Imaging Systems for about $1.5 billion in cash.
Global Imaging is a Tampa, Fla.-based company that focuses on the small- and medium-sized business (SMB) market through 21 regional subsidiaries and employs 4,500 people.
Global’s president and chief operating offer will continue with the company, reporting to Jim Firestone, president of Xerox North America.
Global carries products from Ricoh, Konica Minolta and Sharp, but does not currently carry Xerox. After the acquisition closed in May, Global will operate as a subsidiary of Xerox and will gradually add Xerox’ lines as well.
Lots of interesting Microsoft Vista news coming out today. The first article I came across talks about the problems with virtualizing Vista. Apparently, it isn’t going to be that easy. The article goes on to claim that Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) will be a costly endeavor. In addition to the additional fees that SMBs will have to pay, there are “technical limitations and massive IT resources” that will be required. The company seems to think that it will end up being nothing more than a niche solution. Apparently, Microsoft hasn’t been keeping up on the virtualization buzz that the channel has been seeing. Granted, VECD only seems to apply to desktop workstations, but server virtualization has been gaining enough steam that there will be a legitimate need for it in the future.
In security news, it looks as if the government will be upgrading to Vista by February 1st 2008. The goal of the upgrade being to standardize government workstations and provide a uniform level of security for the body that runs the country. Channel professionals specializing in Vista should be licking their chops in anticipation of the fat government training and support contracts that will soon be featured at a pork barrel near you.
Finally, are you or your client anti-disk storage? Been waiting for a technology to mature a little bit and gain some traction? In February Big Blue launched what it claims to be the first “tape library with enterprise-class encryption for SMBs and remote corporate offices.” Instead of dealing with pesky, quick data retrieval, SMBs can still rely on tape backup to keep their important data stored. Not bad for a channel partner who wouldn’t mind selling that hardware, creating a service plan and storing the data.
Just a thought.
Spam poses as Internet Explorer 7 download Beware of emails from “firstname.lastname@example.org.” It may look like an invitation to download Internet Explorer 7, but it’s really a trick to infect machines with malware. [SearchSecurity.com]
California’s $1.4bn IT boondoggle More dollars than sense. [TheReg]
Symantec Backup Exec gets Vista-tized Fresh release Exchanged and x64ed too. [TheReg]
Cisco develops smart network bot Network connection drops and these little guys pick it right back up again. [DailyTech]
In a recent interview about Business Process Management Solution (BPMS) channel opportunities, industry expert AndreTruong said that BPMS hasn’t hit the mainstream yet but presents fruitful future possibilities.
According to the report, Forrester defines digital business architecture: as “an IT architecture centered on business metadata on which IT solutions act in a unified and consistent way to deliver rapid business change.” The report then lays out two core requirements for the technology supporting digital business architecture:
- Business policies must be constructed in such a metadata friendly way, which will make it easy for it to be electronically stored, accessed and manipulated.
- The metadata must work consistently across heterogeneous environments.
The report touts BPMS solutions as creating a “major paradigm shift” by capturing business models “…inside the BPMS solution in an executable format, providing direct alignment between business design, technology implementation and business measurements.” Furthermore, BPMS’s graphical process model makes it easy to change processes.
The following bullet points are a boiled down version of Forrester’s findings:
BPMS allows standards-based, model-driven, design, development and execution:
- Captures business process flows
- Supports model-driven development
- Enables process orchestration
- Stores service definition
- Provides SOA infrastructure
BPMS features add value:
- Captures business metadata beyond process models
- Stores business metadata
- Provides real-time user visibility into business process
BPMS features support digital business architecture including:
- Integrated analytics and inside business intelligence
- Complex event processing (CEP)
BPMS puts the business in digital business architecture:
- Increased business collaboration in process modeling
- Enhanced communication between business units and BTs.
- Alignment of business process role-models
- Allows flexible adjustment of business rules
- Improved focus on business process ownership
Are you a BPMS consultant, or are you interested in becoming one? Are you a business-owner with BPMS experiences? If so, we would love to hear from you.
Dell reports it has found financial‘misconduct’ Dell said “evidence of misconduct” had been uncovered in an internal investigation of its financial practices over several years. [NYT]
What happened in TJX security failings? If company execs need a lesson on what not to do before and after a data breach, experts say there’s plenty to learn from a regulatory document TJX filed with the SEC Wednesday.
Will data breach be the end of TJX? This week in Security Blog Log: Industry experts say companies can learn from a data breach and even prosper from it. But is TJX following the right example?[SearchSecurity.com]
PC Makers: Vista brings little joy so far After all the hype surrounding its January launch, Microsoft’s new
Vista operating system has yet to brighten the outlook for PC makers and could even lead to oversupplies for those who had built up inventory. [ChannelWeb]
It may not matter, if the apples are going out of season. Phone numbers’ days may be limited with the growing popularity of VoIP. Contrary to the traditional practice of telecommunications companies charging users a fee for their phone number, session initiation protocol (SIP), which handles most online calls, doesn’t need the traditional ten digit number (or even the 1, if dialing out of area) to know who you want to talk to.
It’s kind of a “duh” concept, but only recently has someone put a plan in motion to bypass this “ancient” tradition in telecom. John Todd, of TalkPlus, helped create Freenum, an organization partnered with over 200 universities looking to adopt this idea into their own communications systems. The implications for further savings that this sort of “numberless” system might offer businesses are clear. However, it will be up to SIs and VARs to look at what Freenum is doing and adopt it to the channel.
According to a report in the Boston Globe, Vonage is the “worst-performing US initial public offering in the past year” and may be facing bankruptcy in the next few years.
Wall Street analysts have given the company low marks after a Virginia court ordered Vonage to pay Verizon $58 million for patent infringement; saying that the result could threaten the embattled company’s profitability.
Without any more fanfare than is given to any standard press release, Oracle reported yesterday on some of its users’ experience with Unbreakable Linux. Given that Oracle sued SAP for “corporate theft on a grand scale” last week, it’s interesting to note some similarities — and some differences.
|Oracle – SAP||Red Hat – Oracle|
|Who took from whom?||SAP’s subsidiary TomorrowNow took from Oracle, according to the suit||Oracle took from Red Hat, according to Oracle|
|What’d they take?||Support materials||An OS and publicly available support materials|
|Was it allowed?||No, says Oracle. Maybe, says an analyst.||Yes — open source|
|End result?||Support for Oracle at half the cost||Support for Red Hat at half the cost|
|Why’d they do it?||To undercut a competitor||To undercut a competitor|
|Reaction?||A lawsuit||No lawsuit|
Of course, open source is open source, and proprietary information is proprietary. And Oracle may get a court to agree that when TomorrowNow allegedly downloaded support information for one client and used the same information to support others it was “stealing software products and other confidential materials that Oracle developed to service its own support customers.” Or the court could decide that proprietary information — once legitimately paid for by a customer and used by a VAR to support that customer — can be used for other purposes with no further obligation to the original owner. And that’s assuming the case even makes it to court — Oracle and SAP could settle, instead.
IP arguments are complicated, and VARs involved in this kind of support could be culpable to the vendor who supplied the software and the documentation. So the difference between open and closed is no joke.
But it’s interesting to note the parallels, nevertheless.