Cisco has majorly enhanced its portfolio beyond the ‘switches and routers’ domain over the past five years.
The networking giant now has an extensive portfolio of security technologies catalyzed by acquisitions. These acquisitions include takeover of security company Sourcefire in July 2013 and cloud service provider CloudLock last year.
Cisco has a well entrenched channel ecosystem established over the years globally and in India. The channels are also waking up to new business opportunities with the vendor’s GTM in security domain.
“Security is a tremendous opportunity in today’s era and the channel community is seeing that as well. Security for Cisco is embedded with 50 percent software with a large overhang of value-added services,” said Daisy Chittilapilly, MD, Partner Organization, Cisco India and SAARC.
The penchant to up the Cisco services business is high among partners, she added.
Even smaller channel partner organizations in India are now exploring security related services as we bring new services to India around cyber lab range and the upcoming SOC in Pune, she said.
"We have brought more global assets of Cisco to India, which can be whitelabelled as a value added entity and resold by channels," said Chittilapilly.
Do CIOs and enterprises in India market prefer generalist or specialist partners?
"Customer organizations are happy to buy fragmented or specialized solutions," she replied. “The tier 2 partners usually tend to pick a place to stay as specialists in datacenter, collaboration, networking, among others from our wide portfolio. But the big difference is that security has now become pervasive in customers’ IT infra. Hence, collaboration and datacenter partners are adding security as a layer into their offerings," she explained.
“Security for Cisco is embedded with 50 percent software with a large overhand of value-added services.”
Daisy Chittilapilly, MD, Partner Organization, Cisco India & SAARC
Channels want to be more relevant to their end customers with security portfolio that’s in sync with the market behavior, she said. “There was one architecture of Cisco in the past wherein most resellers would add on everything to be relevant to Cisco customers. Now, there is a tendency for them to go deep and build solution focus in that architecture by bringing in a third part party as well,” she added.
"Cisco India has several business units such as datacenter and collaboration which are interlaced with a horizontal structure. The sales folk have security as a part of their BU and channels are horizontally aligned with the different business units," she pointed out.
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“Two years ago, we initiated the conversation to bring boutique security partners under our fold. Those partners continue to focus on security. However, channels partners who have specialized in other Cisco architectures are also adding security as the secondary certification into their GTM portfolio," she highlighted.
Is hiring talent in cloud or cybersecurity scarce and expensive for channel companies in India? "That is right," she replied. “We are putting more emphasis on a buddy program with the Cisco team and channels across our architectures and solutions. We commenced the security program almost four years back and after realizing its value we extended it across all Cisco architecture towards the end of 2016 and 2017," she added.
The active high touch buddy program will continue for both large and small partners as they are on a journey of digital transformation with their customers, she said.
Talking about the vertical-based notion in India, she added, “Vertical orientation is prevalent for non-metro partners. The channels understand the buying motion of the customer better, though they may or may not have IP for that vertical.”
India is the land of clusters for verticals such as Surat for jewelry, Coimbatore for machine tools, Chennai for manufacturing ancillary, to name a few. The partners have a propensity to bring knowledge to verticals for business growth, she explained.
“Partners like our vertical approach as we invest in domain experts and T&C to enhance their business. We are also putting innovation dollars in the centers too,” she added.
And the whole effort of co-creation and co-development with channels invokes a great degree of appetite for partners on both sides of the business - hardware and software, said channel chief for Cisco India Daisy Chittilapilly.