Cisco's call to arms

Chambers, other execs fire up the channel for clouds, architecture at the Cisco Partner Summit

John Chambers opened up the Cisco Partner Summit this week with some meaty targets for channel partners and Cisco itself. He says there's a $170 billion total addressable market in products and services for Cisco and its partners, and it will grow to $210 billion in the next couple of years.

And the global economy is stronger this year than anticipated, with 3% to 4% growth expected in the US, and 5% worldwide, he said. Fueling this is the global movement from an information economy to a networked economy, he said.

With that, Chambers laid out Cisco's top 5 priorities: leadership in core routing and switching, and associated services; collaboration; data center/virtualization/cloud; business/technology architectures; and video. Video, according to Chambers, is the next voice.

But cloud is the overriding theme at the conference. Virtually every Cisco presentation and session hammered home the opportunity for Cisco and its partners in the virtual IT infrastructure. Cisco even rolled out new designation programs for its channel partners depending on that partner's depth in cloud expertise: as a builder, provider or reseller of services; and unveiled a professional services programs to allow partners to bulk up their cloud consulting and integration prowess.

Architectures were next on the Summit agenda list. Chambers and other Cisco executives pounded home the architecture marketing pitch to partners as an incentive to sell customers an overall, end-to-end Cisco system, rather than just Cisco products.

Chambers assailed competitors that do not sell products as components of an overall architecture with customized, internally developed ASICs to tie them tightly together:

"You stayed on standalone switching? How do you have margins if you stay in merchant silicon? That's something anyone can sell."

And with an architectural approach to sales, discussions with customers are focused on business process and productivity, not on technology, he says.  Chambers says a recent meeting involved zero time on routing and switching, and all on business transformation and market transitions.

"We do not talk technology; we talk transformation," he said.

With that, he pointed out Cisco's own transformation in its product portfolio: switches moving from older Catalyst lines to newer ones, and to the Nexus platforms; Cisco's entry into the blade server market with the Unified Computing System platform; 59% growth in data center product revenue in Q2; the Videoscape Internet TV architecture for service providers; and the increasing emphasis on collaboration software like the Quad social networking application for enterprises running on the Cius tablet, configured as a virtual desktop client.

"What you're beginning to see is how we're changing as a company," Chambers said.

And how.

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