Cisco's specialisation revamp is to take effect next month, with Gold partners facing a change in the accreditation process.
At last year's global partner summit in San Francisco, the networking monolith revealed that partner certifications would be moved to a system based on architecture specialisations rather than solutions-focused badges. At this year's partner shindig, taking place in New Orleans this week, Cisco confirmed the changes will be implemented next month.
Under the outgoing system, Gold partners require a minimum of four specialisations in advanced technology areas. In the new scheme, they will need at least three specialisations from six architectural umbrellas: borderless networks; consumer; small business; datacentre/virtualisation; service provider; collaboration; and small business.
VARs can attain Silver status by bagging two architecture badges, or Premier status by attaining one. Other routes to certification will also be available and partners will have up to 24 months to align themselves to the new scheme.
Edison Peres (pictured), Cisco's channel chief, told conference attendees the programme changes would "make the content more relevant and reduce costs".
He claimed the vendor is working hard to get partners' sales and technical staff skilled up. The Business Architect training course is designed to educate salespeople on the ins and outs of architectural selling. The course's first intake is set to graduate soon. Peres told partners yesterday that the next 500 to sign up would be rewarded with a discount of up to 50 per cent.
He told ChannelWeb that the shake-up would not drastically alter the make-up of Cisco's channel.
"I do think we will see a big change in the mix of partners – they will just evolve gradually," he said.
Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of worldwide channels, added: "One of the reasons we announced the direction [a year ago] was to show a roadmap to get there over time. We recognise there is an investment [needed from partners] – we wanted to make it evolutionary."
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