Networking giant, Cisco, has flagged its growing suite of complementary technologies as a major source of sales growth in 2005. It has also indicated partners will have to build up their skills in order to capitalise on increasing demand for specialist solutions.
Known as Cisco advanced technologies, the suite currently includes security, IP telephony, wireless LAN, optical, storage networking, and home networks products and represents the vendor's attempt to expand beyond pure networking hardware.
Cisco's foundation technology of switches and routers produced 84 per cent of all product sales globally, but an emphasis was being placed on building each of its advanced technologies up into markets worth more than $2 billion, its APAC operations president, Gordon Astles, said.
"Not many companies have the ability to provide all of these pieces, and our job is to provide more of the pieces than anyone else," he said.
Cisco's foundation technologies were growing at a rate 31 per cent per year whereas advanced technologies were growing at 47 per cent, A/NZ managing director, Ross Fowler, said.
This change to an overall solution meant partners would need to move away from commodity-based selling, Astles said.
"Advanced technologies will allow our partners to move up the value chain," he said. "Cisco is spending millions in APAC on rebates to support partners in getting certified on these solutions and getting customer satisfaction up."
Fowler said Cisco's strengthening of relationships with channel partners in 2004 would continue into 2005.
"Following the departure of [channel boss] Kip Cole, we have done a restructure and brought Suzanne Hansen in to set up our channels group," he said. "She has plenty of ideas to move partners beyond pure network integration."
In particular, Cisco would grow its value engagement partner program which analysed the end user market to better align partners from a geographic, vertical or technological point of view. It would also expand its Simply Cisco Engage program, used to aid partners to sell product into SMBs.
To match the growing importance of advanced technologies in 2005, technology specialisations among partners would also be a feature, Fowler said.
"We have a gold, silver, premier and registered partner structure, but on top of that we have advanced technologies specialisations," he said. "For example, a premier partner could get an advanced technology specialisation with IP telephony or storage which would allow them to play in the advanced technology space in which they are strongest on top of their basic networking skills.
"Many of the premier partners we talk to find that it is better to put a specialisation first before trying to go for gold certification."