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Honolulu, Hawaii—Cisco Systems President and CEO John Chambers introduced the company’s Opportunity Incentive Program to the more than 1,500 partners attending the annual Cisco Partner Summit here.

Focusing on the importance of working with clients to change business processes as they introduce new technologies, he urged partners to reform their service offerings to emphasize the technology’s ability to transform business.

“The vast majority of customers,” said Chambers, “when they understand the value you bring, will pay a premium for this.”

Cisco recently introduced a deal registration program, the Opportunity Incentive Program, that offers discounts to partners closing new businesses and protects their sales from being undercut by competitors.

Under the program, explained Mike Wong, CEO of Calence, a network integrator and Cisco Gold Partner based in Tempe, AZ, “you register the deal with Cisco and, if another partner has not already registered it, they know you’re the one who’s done the demand creation and they reward you for creating that demand.” He applauded the program as one that “protects the good behavior and rewards the good behavior” of those who invest in the kinds of consultation and pre-sales services Chambers alluded to.

In his keynote, Chambers declared “we’re striving to be No. 1 in routers, switches, security, IP telephony, wireless, SANs” and other advanced technologies.

That, said Wong, has been “the biggest thing for us, the continued focus on the advanced technology space and the profitability programs they put in place” for technologies such as IP telephony and network security. The OIP, he said, “rewards us for the increased investment we’re making in terms of training, certification, sales overlays and things of that nature.”

OIP is just one of many new Cisco programs being discussed at the Summit.

Next page: Cisco moves toward storage and managed services

Page 2: Cisco moves toward storage and managed services

The company also introduced a program that will allow solutions providers to resell managed services in security, IP telephony and storage built by service providers on Cisco technologies. The program is designed to help both Cisco partners and service providers sell services such as managed IP-VPNs into the small to mid-sized business market.

Wong observed that, in the past, Cisco partners often found themselves competing directly against service providers.
“For some partners, that may make sense but, until there are more success stories,” he said, “people are going to be a little wary of partnering with a company like ATT.”

Also at the summit, Cisco announced its creation of an enterprise storage VAR council, a curious move since the company does not presently work with storage partners.

Keith Zubchevich, director of storage and optical worldwide channels for Cisco, described the council as an outreach effort to work with the reseller efforts of OEM storage manufacturers that resell Cisco’s MDS 9000 series storage switches through their channel programs.

Cisco, however, invited 14 storage solutions providers to the summit, including: Avnet Enterprise Solutions, of Tempe, AZ; Nth Generation Computing of San Diego, CA, and Sirius Computer Solutions of San Antonio, TX.

Carol Ellison is editor of The Ziff Davis Channel Zone. Write to her at