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Cisco’s MSP Investments Are Big and Getting Bigger: Page 2 of 2

Eager to grab an outsized share of a giant addressable market, the tech industry heavyweight is actively helping current and aspiring MSPs develop and sell Cisco-based offers, according to channel exec Alexandra Zagury (pictured). By Rich Freeman

To compound the complexity of Zagury’s assignment, her team must accommodate the needs of everything from mom-and-pop MSPs to giant service providers with Fortune 500 clienteles. Those bigger partners are supported by assigned account managers, among others, but reaching the far larger pool of far smaller MSPs requires a different, more scalable approach. 

As Michelle Ragusa-McBain, Cisco’s global community lead and channel evangelist for MSP and everything as a service, told ChannelPro earlier this year, an AI-powered onboarding resource called Partner Journeys will play a key role in that plan. Launched last month, the self-serve tool is designed to simplify and clarify an otherwise bewildering process. 

“If you’ve talked to any Cisco partners ever, they’ll tell you we’re not the easiest company to do business with,” says Cherie Caldwell, director of sales business development for ecosystem expansion at Cisco, whose team built Partner Journeys. “We’re massive, and we have a lot of business units, and every business unit can kind of do their own thing.”

Partner Journeys cuts through that complexity for MSPs by walking them step by step through everything required to become a Cisco partner, develop an offer, and sell it through VARs and Cisco’s own salesforce. 

Becoming a Cisco MSP is one of several journeys supported by the tool at present, which includes content for developers, Meraki ISV partners, and others too. Cisco plans to add five to 10 additional journeys every quarter, one of which will be tailored to assist Andrew Sage, the company’s vice president of global distribution, who assumed responsibility for Cisco’s SMB sales organization in April. Attracting more SMB partners is a big part of his role. 

“Being able to onboard them, enable them, and do all that in a touchless digital way and track it will be massive for Andrew’s organization,” Caldwell says.

Without citing specific numbers, Zagury says her group’s efforts are already bearing fruit. “Oliver, when we started this journey a year ago, said, ‘you need to grow [revenue] 15%,’ and I can tell you we’re growing faster than that,” she says, adding that service creation is another key metric on her scorecard. “We stopped counting at 2,150 offers that we already have built with partners out there.”

To sustain that momentum, Cisco has ambitious plans in the year ahead to get MSPs selling its SD-WAN platform, along with its “full-stack observability” suite, which includes the AppDynamics application performance management system, the Intersight cloud management platform, and the ThousandEyes “digital experience monitoring” application.

“It will provide all this different data that partners can really monetize and use to provide really great outcomes to customers,” Zagury says, adding that some MSPs will also re-sell the offering to co-managed IT clients.

To accelerate deal velocity, more predictable quoting is on the way as well. “You’ll see us get much stronger at programmatic pricing,” Zagury says.

As-a-service products figured prominently in keynotes yesterday at Cisco Live, which concludes today.

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