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Cisco Systems has announced a channel specialization that focuses on the storage networking market.

This new Storage Networking Specialization is the latest addition to more than 14 specializations now available to channel partners through the Cisco Channel Partner Program. It provides a structured training roadmap and verification process to offer solution providers the expertise to plan, design, implement and support intelligent SAN (storage area network) solutions that are based on Cisco technology.

According to Keith Zubchevich, director of storage and optical solutions for worldwide channels at Cisco Systems Inc., the new specialization will allow channel partners a chance to stand above others in the SAN market.

And since Cisco is working closely with SAN OEMs, Zubchevich said he thinks this will give resellers and integrators the power they need to create SANs that marry the technology promise of multiprotocol SANs with established network management protocols and procedures.

He also pointed out that since customers want to use multiple technologies in their SANs, “By definition, enterprise use of SANs is an integration issue, and we can help partners to more easily design and integrate solutions and then articulate their solutions’ advantages to customers.”

The specialization builds on Cisco’s pioneering efforts in the SAN switching market with the Cisco MDS 9000 family of Multilayer Intelligent directors and fabric switches. It also complements the unique Cisco OSM (Original Storage Manufacturer) Active Go-To-Market Strategy by enabling solution providers to strengthen their relationships with Cisco and its OSM partners, the primary distributors for the Cisco MDS 9000.

Because of this, Cisco is requiring channel partners that are interested in this specialization to have a resale relationship with at least one of its OSM partners.

“The SAN market is going through a major transition driven by customer demand for SAN fabric consolidation, improved business continuance and disaster recovery,” said Edison Peres, vice president of advanced technologies in worldwide channels at Cisco.

“This market transformation requires qualified channel partners to serve an expanding role, representing a tremendous opportunity for these companies. Our Storage Networking Specialization will help our channel partners develop the knowledge and skills to further accelerate customer adoption of Cisco intelligent SAN solutions.”

Click here to read about efforts by Cisco and IBM to integrate their data-center architectures.

“There’s no doubt Cisco is leading the transformation of the storage networking market,” said Jim Teter, president of Avnet Enterprise Solutions. “Customers seek us out not only because we understand Cisco networking and storage, but also industry-specific requirements. We’re working hard to continually build on our 25-plus years’ experience in the storage marketplace, bringing customers new solutions to protect their information assets.”

To achieve the Storage Networking Specialization, a participating channel partner must be a Cisco Registered Partner, a prerequisite for all partners participating in Cisco channel partner programs. Solution providers can become Cisco Registered Partners at the Cisco reseller Web site.

In addition, channel partners must fill the following job roles with individuals who have met specific professional certification program requirements: an account manager responsible for sales methodology and customer engagement, a system engineer responsible for storage networking solution plan and design, and a field engineer responsible for storage networking implementation, operation and optimization.

Training includes several new Cisco storage certifications now available through the Cisco Qualified Specialist program.

Channel partners who achieve the Storage Networking Specialization also earn 30 points toward certification under the Cisco Channel Partner Program. More detailed information regarding the new specialization is available at the Cisco specializations site.

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