Changing the Channel: Networking VAR news

June 10, 2009  8:53 PM

Unified communications: Microsoft/HP vs. Cisco

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

At a press conference last Wednesday at the Cisco Partner Summit in Boston, John Chambers made a pretty interesting comment when asked about Microsoft’s recent UC partnership with HP:

“We compete with Microsoft in UC, and are partnering with them closely in other areas. What was interesting to us in their announcement last week… MS has been saying for years that the network doesn’t matter, their slogan: “VoIP as you are.” They just picked the wrong partner [HP]. That’s why Cisco has become market leader. Interesting that MS has recognized the importance of the network, but we think HP will probably not add value. We’re the best company in the world to deliver networking capabilities as far as unified communications.”

He raises an interesting point. Microsoft is probably a little late in the game in recognizing the importance of the network now, but at least they finally did. Yet the plan that MS has laid out with HP seems quite generous in terms of what they plan to accomplish. A big chunk of money is going into HP ProCurve’s networking hardware so it can integrate with Microsoft’s products, but Cisco is confident that its products are already there. (It’s pretty obvious that the products are there, seeing as Cisco already has a similar UC interoperability partnership with Microsoft.)

The question is, what kind of vendors are partners willing to sell to their customers? When talking to a partner about selling virtualization in the data center, he snorted when I asked if he was ready to sell Cisco.

“Why would I take a chance on Cisco,” he said, “when I’ve been partnered with HP and VMware for years?”

The same idea applies to taking a chance on Microsoft/HP over Cisco. Why would someone go with Microsoft, who only recently realized the importance of a network and partnered with HP, who only in the last ten years made the foray into networking products, over a vendor who built its foundation on networking and has been touting the importance of since the 1980s?

Are partners willing to take a chance on the Microsoft/HP team, or would they stay with the time-tested champion of networking, as John Chambers thinks?

June 5, 2009  4:05 PM

Chambers demos TelePresence during keynote

AmyKucharik Amy Kucharik Profile: AmyKucharik

At Cisco Partner Summit 2009 on Thursday, John Chambers presented a demonstration of the company’s TelePresence solution. In the demo, a TelePresence setup is displayed on the screen, while Chambers speaks with the Cisco business video demo center in San Jose. This portion of the demo showed off the potential for use of TelePresence with video surveillance and digital signage in a healthcare organization.

Cisco keeps repeating “you have to experience it to believe it” regarding TelePresence, so I thought it would be neat to show you this demo. Although I mostly just thought it would be fun to shoot a video of a video of a video (of a video?)…

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June 4, 2009  10:01 PM

Cisco channel gameplan for expanding its data center footprint

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

At this week’s Cisco Partner Summit in Boston, Cisco revealed its game plan for expanding its channel partners’ role in selling Cisco data center products. At the center of the plan is the Unified Computing System (UCS), Cisco’s server product line, which was announced earlier this year after many months of speculation. Now, as Cisco begins to roll out its go-to-market strategy for UCS, enterprises are taking notice.

Investment bank Goldman Sachs recently surveyed 100 IT executives at Fortune 1000 companies and found that 18% plan to evaluate Cisco’s servers in the next year and about 67% expect to see an “increased presence for Cisco servers in their data centers over the next two to three years.  Several executives touted these findings during various keynote presentations at the partner summit.  However, GigaOm pointed out, an “increased presence” for Cisco servers doens’t mean much since Cisco’s servers are just now hitting the market. Since the vast majority of companies have no Cisco servers, just one Cisco server in a data center would represent an increased presence.

In any case, here’s a rundown of the channel-relevant news that came out this week around the Unified Computing system:

First Cisco announced several new programs aimed at expanding its data center partner channel.

  • Cisco expanded its Value Incentive Program to all of its data center technologies. This program was limited to its data center switching line, but now partners earn incentive rewards for developing expertise around the company’s unified computing servers, storage networking, WAN optimization.
  • Cisco also introduced its Data Center Channel Solutions Program. This appears to be a program that helps partners validate reference data center designs that incorporate products from leading data center vendors, such as EMC, Microsoft, Netapp, Red Hat and VMware. Note that leading server vendors like HP and IBM are not mentioned here. Old friends are now frenemies.
  • The company also rolled out an Authorized Partner Program that expanded the number of channel partners that can sell Unified Computing servers. After completing some online training and an exam, all Cisco DCNI (Cisco Advanced Data Center Network Infrastructure Specialization) partners will be able to sell the newly announced UCS Series-C rack-mounted servers. (more on these new servers below).

In conjunction with all these channel programs, Cisco also announced an expansion of its Unified Computing System server family.  Cisco unveiled the UCS C-Series Rack-Mount servers, a new form factor for the UCS line (or an older form factor, depending on how you look at it).

Cisco’s initial roll-out of UCS involved the UCS B-Series blade servers, which work with specialized blade chassis, fabric interconnects and fabric extenders. The new C-Series rack servers will offer the following features:

  • The servers will run on the unified, lossless 10 Gigabit Ethernet fabric that eliminates the need for separate storage network connections in the servers.
  • Like the B-Series servers, the C-Series will also have Cisco’s new memory extension technology, which Cisco claims will yield more than 2.5 times the addressable memory of currently available two-socket rack-mount platforms. this will allow companies to run more virtual machines on physical servers.
  • Cisco will also include a virtualized adapter on these servers, which optimizes workload consolidation and virtualization by allowing each adaptor to define up to 128 Ethernet or Fibre Channel connections inside the box.

These new servers are built on Intel Xeon 5500 processor. They will be available in the final quarter of 2009.

Cisco also announced two new IT career certifications in data center management, which it will target at both customers and channel partners.  the new certifications are Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Design Specialist and Cisco Data Center Unified Computing Support Specialist. Both certifications will involve skills in storage networking, data center networking infrastructure, data center applications services and virtualization.

June 4, 2009  8:31 PM

Video: Cisco’s new data center virtualization certifications

AmyKucharik Amy Kucharik Profile: AmyKucharik

At Cisco Partner Summit 2009’s Wednesday news conference, Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, General Manager for Learning@cisco, announced Cisco’s new data center virtualization certifications: The Data Center Unified Computing Design specialization for data center architects, and the Data Center Unified Computing Support specialization for data center engineers.

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I also spoke with John Growdon, Director of Go-To-Market Worldwide Channels for Cisco, about the new certifications. Growdon explained how training people this way will help them work across traditional silos (in technology, company structure and sales structure) that must be broken down for virtualization technology to be implemented successfully. I’ll be posting the full Growdon Q&A soon on

June 3, 2009  8:10 PM

Video: Padmasree Warrior talks data center partner opportunities

AmyKucharik Amy Kucharik Profile: AmyKucharik

Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior addressed members of the press today at Cisco Partner Summit 2009, where she introduced some of Cisco’s data center opportunities for partners.

According to Warrior, Cisco has been hearing very positive feedback from its customers concerning the data center market. In a recent Goldman-Sachs survey of 100 IT executives from Fortune 1000 companies, 2/3 of those surveyed reported that they expected an increased presence of Cisco servers in their data centers over the next 2-3 years.

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June 3, 2009  2:15 PM

Cisco Partner Summit: McCool identifies $20 billion opportunity for Cisco in data centers

Shamus McGillicuddy Shamus McGillicuddy Profile: Shamus McGillicuddy

At the Cisco Partner Summit, John McCool, Cisco’s vice president and general manage of data center, switching and services group, said Cisco has expanded its potential market to about $20 billion in the data center today by introducing its blade server product line, the Unified Computing System (UCS).

In conjunction with this, Cisco will be announcing later today a new set of data center network channel programs, a set of new skill certifications for partners and an expansion to the UCS product line. I’ll keep an eye out for this and post more information about it later.

June 3, 2009  4:23 AM

Cisco announces shift to architectural plays

AmyKucharik Amy Kucharik Profile: AmyKucharik

At Tuesday’s Cisco Partner Summit keynote, one of the company’s major announcements for its partners was that it will align all of Cisco’s sales force under three multibillion dollar architectural plays. Keith Goodwin, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels, said that in moving from a focus on advanced technologies to a focus on architectural plays, Cisco enables partners to move from having a technology conversation to having a business conversation with their customers.

The three major architectural plays will be:

1. Collaboration: Cisco will broaden its emphasis on collaboration tools, make video pervasive, and integrate these tools into networks.

2. Virtualization and Data Center: With its unified computing platform and new server products, Cisco deepens its entry to virtualization and data center markets, posing a threat to the vendors who’ve traditionally held greater market share.

3. Borderless Network: Cisco’s core area of routing and switching is evolving into “next-generation routing and switching,” including Cisco WAAS WAN optimization.

In this video, Associate Editor Elaine Hom summarizes the three architectural plays.

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June 2, 2009  6:59 PM

Cisco’s Navigate to Accelerate channel partner program

AmyKucharik Amy Kucharik Profile: AmyKucharik

At Cisco Partner Summit 2009, Cisco Sr. Director of Unified Communications and “Navigate to Accelerate” spokesperson Richard McLeod discusses what’s new and what the program means for Cisco channel partners.

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June 2, 2009  4:20 PM

Cisco Partner Summit 2009: Goodwin keynote emphasizes collaboration, video

AmyKucharik Amy Kucharik Profile: AmyKucharik

In this video from the Cisco Partner Summit 2009 in Boston, Associate Editor Elaine Hom provides an overview of the morning keynote by Keith Goodwin, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Channels.

Goodwin announced enhancements to Cisco’s partner program, including a $2 billion increase in credit capacity and that their financing program was being extended from 60 to 90 days. Notably, partners also will no longer need their own network operations centers in order to participate. Cisco will also be providing Flip cameras to all partners attending the conference as part of the company’s growing emphasis of video used for collaboration. Andrew Sage, VP, Small Business Sales, joined Goodwin and demonstrated video’s “immediacy and relevancy” with a sample customer testimonial.

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June 2, 2009  4:12 AM

Welcome to the Networking Channel blog

AmyKucharik Amy Kucharik Profile: AmyKucharik

I’m very excited to introduce “Changing the Channel,” the blog companion site of Like our main site, this blog will focus on the needs of value-added resellers, solution providers and integrators, and will bring you networking and IT news. We’ll let you know about new products — whether they’ll bring you a margin or a migraine — and keep you abreast of how IT developments may affect your bottom line.

I would also like to take a moment to introduce myself. I’ve just joined the team as site editor. Previously, I was the editor for, so I hope to bring my knowledge of the enterprise networking market to bear on topics that are important to our channel partner audience. Joining me on this blog will be Associate Editor Elaine Hom and News Editor Shamus McGillicuddy.

This week, when we’ll be attending the Cisco Partner Summit here in Boston and blogging about the event. I hope our posts will be useful and entertaining.

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