Cisco plans to overhaul its third-party channel by introducing a. retraining scheme for its partners, including systems integrators, to specialise and develop areas of expertise.
The networking giant expects all its partners to participate in its Specialisation Programme - a series of programmes, technical workshops and training courses at a cost of about #1,800 each - to achieve accreditation in one or more of five target markets. These include network management, security, SNA/IP integration, Wans and voice access.
Tom Stevenson, vice president of worldwide channels at Cisco, said: 'Cisco encourages its channel to develop business methodologies which differentiate themselves from their competitors in the light of today's increasingly competitive and complex networking market. This programme furnishes the channel with the tools needed to develop its core strengths to meet the complex internetworking needs of the market.'
Participating companies are each required to send about four staff - including sales and technical personnel - to Cisco for training. They must then undergo an examination to gain accreditation. The process takes about three months.
Simon Wilders, channel sales manager at Cisco, said companies could go straight to the test stage if they felt confident. He added that the scheme was designed to enforce high levels of technical expertise and focus partners' skills. While partners could still offer general skills, they would also gain specialisation in all five areas of the accreditation.
The first programme, which deals with Wan-related skills, is available now. The other modules will be launched by the second quarter of this year.
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XYLAN ACCREDITATION CASTS SHADOW OVER BID BACKING
Switch vendor Xylan has unveiled an accreditation programme to offer support for its resellers and distributors, which could leave them in the lurch when they bid for contracts.
As part of the scheme, Xylan will offer to back a partner in the tendering and implementation of any projects that could be mutually beneficial to both sides, but will refuse to back any other partner that bids for the same contract. More than nine resellers and two distributors have already signed up.
Richard Pitt, managing director of Xylan UK, said: 'This way, we don't end up sitting on the fence, leading to our reseller sitting on the fence and losing out on the contract.'
Commenting on whether this causes problems between Xylan and its resellers, Pitt said: 'Of course it does, but we need to be clear that the deal can be won. It will not be decided on a first come, first served basis.'
Pitt also suggested Xylan would not help with contracts it felt were too large for a reseller to cope with. 'We wouldn't really back a partner with a #5 million turnover bidding for the IT infrastructure of Marks & Spencer,' he said.
The agreement does not affect public tenders, where Xylan will not throw its backing behind one reseller.
Xylan eventually wants all resellers and distributors that sell Xylan products to be part of the accredited partner scheme.
Les Francis, principal channel consultant at Romtec, expressed concern for smaller resellers. 'These terms are not normally the case for accreditations and it seems almost restrictive,' he said Francis. 'This is an unusual approach that may alienate some of the channel.'
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