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Cisco will again allow individuals within various solution provider organizations to share “roles,” allowing a single person to serve in two roles in the “sales engineer,” “field engineer” tracks or to serve in four roles in the “account manager track.”

The change is a roll-back of an unpopular change for a minority of VARs made by Cisco about a year ago. Smaller VARs were most hurt by the Cisco move to require that such individuals serve in dedicated “roles” rather than hold more than one technology certification.

“This change is something that was requested by partners,” said Surinder Brar, senior director of worldwide channel strategy and programs. “This is especially true for smaller partners who wanted to achieve multiple certifications.”

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By reviving the role-sharing abilities of individuals within solution providers, Cisco also increases the number of rebates that such partners are eligible to receive through the VIP (value incentive program). Such rebates are available for unified communications, security and wireless certifications. Brar said VIP rebates play a key role in partner profitability in the United States.

“Partners can now get more by not having to recruit additional people to achieve these,” said Brar.

Still, Brar pointed out that there are advantages to having individuals in dedicated roles, and it’s a minority of partners—mostly the smaller ones—that choose to share roles instead.