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Cisco says don't abandon boxes; but embrace services

Radhika Nallayam | Aug. 20, 2013
Sabrina Lin, VP, Commercial Business, APJ and Greater China, Cisco talks about why the company is pushing the services agenda and how it affects partners.

CW: Partners have always offered services like support, consulting, remote monitoring, etcetera to customers. What exactly is this transition that they have to undergo?

Lin: Cisco's services organization offers tools that enable our partners in a number of ways. These tools help them understand the customer network better; things like what kind of devices are active or inactive, where they are in terms of an upgrade cycle, etcetera. With such data analytics, partners can expect a lot of migration to happen at the customer's end, which results in many up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. This, in turn allows partners to offer on-going monitoring services in an automated manner. We provide them with various tools so that they can develop services.

Most importantly, we also have tools to help them turn their installed base into a cash cow. One of the things that Cisco quotes often, globally, is the fact that we have a $180 billion (about Rs 10 lakh crore) installed base of equipments. That is a very rich source of information for analytics. Now, with the availability of analytics, it opens up a whole new source for partners to offer consulting, migration, and monitoring services. All these are much more profitable because you're becoming more and more intelligent. These are the kind of transitions that we help our partners achieve.

CW: Cisco's reinforced commitment to the mid-market was another highlight at the Summit. So far, you have been known for selling enterprise-class, over-featured systems to the mid-market customers. What will change now?

Lin: One of the key messages at the Summit was 'build for mid-market'. One example of this is our Unified Communications 6000 edition. Earlier, we were marketing it as an enterprise class product with a scalability of 60,000 users.While the new version definitely offers scalability, it has been designed keeping the mid-market customers in mind. So, to start with, we are investing on R&D specifically for the mid-market. We are also working closely with partners who want to build up their commercial practices. We have come up with programs that offer incentives to such partners. We are doubling our investments in the mid-market channel.

Cisco currently has a big marketshare in the large enterprise space. We have much more room to grow in the mid-market. It will be 100 percent partner driven. Infact, we are coming up with a new mechanism wherein Cisco's sales force will be compensated by the partners' business. India is the first market in the region to embrace this model.

CW: There has been speculation that SDN is bad for Cisco and that it could end Cisco's networking dominance. Should your partners be worried?

Lin: Currently, the people interested in SDN are service providers with very complex environments or very large enterprises that have many virtualization layers. SDN is in the experimental stage. When there was hype around SDN, Cisco's stock price went down.


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