Cisco Opens WebEx for Partners to Resell

By Chris Talbot  |  Print this article Print

Cisco estimates that in just a few years 90 percent of network load will come from video traffic. That could be a boon for smart partners who take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade networks.

Another major milestone in Cisco’s unified communications and collaboration strategy came about at the recent Partner Summit when it was announced that WebEx would finally be available for resale by the partner community. Up until now, partners have only had the option of referring the business to Cisco (they’ve been compensated for any successful referrals, but it’s been a direct sale since the WebEx acquisition).

Cisco is finally opening up WebEx for resale to its partner community, and in doing so, the vendor is hoping to make WebEx part of every unified communications and collaboration deal that partners sign with customers.

During a question and answer period with media and analysts, Chambers admitted that mistakes were made with the integration of WebEx into the Cisco family. He noted that Cisco had left WebEx alone for too long and should have integrated it tighter and more quickly.

Currently, 80 million WebEx minutes per month are being used by Cisco, its partners and its customers. According to Cisco, WebEx has more than 50 percent of the share of the web conferencing market, in part because it’s available on a variety of platforms (Windows, Mac, iPad, Android, etc.), O’Sullivan said.

With partners now able to sell WebEx to their customers and receive recurring revenue from renewed WebEx subscriptions, as well as additional margin being made from Cisco’s VIP program, could Cisco increase its marketshare further? Only time will tell.

The reason it took so long to open WebEx up was because Cisco had a lot of work to integrate WebEx into Cisco and to integrate WebEx into Cisco’s existing product portfolio, O’sullivan said.

"It really wasn’t ready to go as a full resale product until now," O’Sullivan said.
Now that the kid gloves are off, Cisco is getting ready to make a hard push on WebEx, with the expectation being that all unified communications and collaboration deals will eventually include WebEx.

"We want to mainstream WebEx into our channel model and get that machine working for us and our partners," O’Sullivan said.

Cisco also announced two new unified communications platforms for the SMB market. The Cisco Unified Communications 320 for small businesses and the Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 3000 for mid-sized businesses will provide new opportunities for partners to bring unified communications to the SMB market at a price point Cisco executives believe will be attractive to SMBs.

"The UC320, which includes UC capability, Wi-Fi, some switching, auto-attendant, voicemail and integration of mobility -- all of that is for up to 24 users -- comes in at a street price at $165 per user, including everything and including the phones," O’Sullivan. The BE 3000, which can support up to 300 users but doesn’t include the Wi-Fi and switching capabilities, will cost mid-sized businesses $100 per user.