Published: November 2nd, 2017

DALLAS – When a channel partner wanted to on-board a new Cisco solution it would have to choose from 10 different Express specializations. This was creating a barrier to entry for the partner base especially in the small and mid-size business area.

Now there is one single track and the goal is to drive more simplicity and get to market faster for the partner.

But that’s not all Cisco has done. The company also announced at the 2017 Cisco Partner Summit a consolidation of its Advanced Specialization program from 13 down to five. Marc Surplus, the vice president of strategy, planning and programs for Cisco Systems, said more technical acumen will be made available for cloud and Internet of Things. “We think this will be simple and help them navigate. We are also redefining what it means to be a Master specialist,” he added.

Cisco is also re-working the Master designation as well to focus on Intent-based networking by adding new capabilities such as automation, security, analytics and programmability.

Kent MacDonald, the senior vice president of business development for CDN Top 100 Solution Provider Long View Systems of Calgary, said Masters had gotten “a little stale” and network intuitive partners want to identify that they are competent and can execute in the market.

The new Master has been redesigned for the next era of networking and it will be made available to the channel in March of 2018 with a focus on software and services skill development.

Cisco is also going to internally begin to recognize the unique expertise and specialization they have achieved on their own. Surplus said it became important for Cisco to begin to recognize the investment being made by channel partners. “If you are a partner with a vertical industry focus or specialization and you have developed a practice with our solutions, use cases and success stories that we should do a value exchange and showcase you in the partner locator tool. And, we should make you better known to customers and to internal Cisco sales people,” he said.

Renae Johnson, vice president of long time Cisco partner Logicallis, said her company needed to become more vertically focused to win in the marketplace. Logicallis first started with healthcare in developing new imaging and telehealth solutions and getting new recognition from Cisco on the work the company has done to improve its own expertise was “huge” and will help get Logicallis known to the Cisco sales team and with customers.

The new specializations will be called Premier Certified, Gold Certified, and Master Specialized and upon receiving these badges the partners will be identified as such inside the Cisco Partner Locator.

Cisco has decided to retire all Advanced Architecture Specializations except for Advanced Video.