Cisco's Goodwin: Virtualization, Cloud Driving New Channel Opportunities

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print

In this interview with Channel Insider, Cisco’s global channel chief Keith Goodwin reveals how video is driving virtualization adoption and that midmarket companies – not large enterprises – accelerated Cisco’s next-generation data center and networking vision.

Cisco Systems has never been a company that sat idly by as the world around it evolved. In the past 18 months, Cisco has embarked on radical departures from its networking legacy to embrace emerging technologies such as video, consumer electronics and, of course, virtualized data centers. The evolution of Cisco has put it on a collision path with longtime partners such as Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft, and the best friend of new allies, most notably EMC and VMware. Some market and financial analysts have pegged Cisco for becoming the most valuable and best brand in technology.

The Cisco evolution has a tremendous impact on channel partners. As Cisco adds new capabilities and competencies, partners must adapt and invest to capitalize on Cisco's strategy. This means earning more certifications, reaching new customers and partnering with peers. Cisco is mindful of the role channel partners play in its evolution, and is including its channel in every step of the evolution strategy.

Ziff Davis Enterprise's Larry Walsh recently sat with Cisco's global channel leader Keith Goodwin for an intensive, exclusive interview about the direction of Cisco's evolution, the missteps and adjustments Cisco has made along the way, and the role channel partners will have in Cisco's virtualized and cloud future.

LARRY WALSH: Cisco has been talking about the network as the platform for many years. Now it seems that rivals are picking up on that message. Is that message still applicable to the entire virtualized data center strategy?
KEITH GOODWIN: We think that the network as a platform is relevant to all of the major market transitions that we're positioning with our partners. I talk about four market transitions with the network central to all four, and so the four market transitions I talked about were collaboration, of course. That's one we've been working together very successfully with our partners for a number of years. Now, we were the first to kind of get out ahead of that one with the partners and lead that one. The network is absolutely at the center there.

The second transition—and this was a new one in a sense that it really positioned it as a market transition is—of course, is video. Video and collaboration go hand-in-hand. I believe we have the inflection point with video. We're seeing video pervasively across many market segments, and it's driving network.

The third market transition is virtualization and data center, and this one is really exciting for Cisco and our partners. I reminded our partners that the success we had together in voice; remember in voice there were a lot of skeptics about Cisco's ability in voice and selling telephones. Together with the partners we really changed the rules of the voice market. It became voices and application over the network. Again, back to the network is the platform. The same thing applies with the data center. What does Cisco know about the data center? What does Cisco know about selling servers? It's not about selling servers. It's about next-generation data center and virtualization with our view that the network is at the center of that. The network—the virtualized network—along with compute and storage are defining the next-generation data center.

The fourth transition is cloud and cloud-based services. Again, it's a very close tie with the virtualized data center. The network is very central to all of that.

I positioned the four market transitions, and then the borderless network relates central to all four of those. The borderless network, obviously, being the concept of anyone, anything, any time or anywhere securely, seamlessly and reliably. Those, you know, kind of capture the essence of the borderless network, and that's really the enabler to the four market transitions that we have talked about, and the network as a platform becomes more relevant than ever.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.