Cisco has had a pop at the channel-unfriendly services strategies of its biggest rivals as it unveils its own rules of sales engagement for the market.
The vendor currently addresses the services space in two specified ways: customer-led, a high-touch model for about 500 predefined "transformational accounts"; and partner-led, for all other customers.
The new Services Rules of Engagement document codifies Cisco's preference for working with VARs holding its Integrated Architectures Specialisation in the transformational accounts. It also lays out rules and best practice for joint account planning, coverage models and the availability of specific tools and services.
In a video on the Cisco website, Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of the vendor's Worldwide Partner Organisation, said: "Customers' needs are clearly changing. They want to transform their business and they are looking to Cisco to help them to do that."
The video is accompanied by a blog post from Raja Sundaram, vice president of Cisco's worldwide services partner organisation. The services channel boss lambasts rivals such as HP and IBM, likening their indirect services engagements to inviting partners to a dinner party, but then sending them home hungry after giving them only bread.
Sundaram points out that services are now the "meat and potatoes for solution providers", making up 40 to 50 per cent of channel sales. This is up from just 20 per cent five years ago, he claims.
He stresses that the services operations of HP and IBM employ 200,000 people each, while Cisco has just 11,000 services staff.
"To go back to our original analogy, Cisco allows partners to enjoy the entire meal, and the $49bn (£31.4bn) services TAM (total available market) around Cisco technologies and architectures in FY12 definitely offers some enticing menu options!," he writes.
"To take advantage of this tremendous opportunity, Cisco Services aims to work with partners to deliver new services experiences to customers through its unique sales engagement model, smart services portfolio and partner-centric programmes. Now, Cisco is taking the next step forward to further clarify our sales engagement model and drive consistency in the field."
The full Services Rules of Engagement document can be obtained by partners from their local Cisco channel representative.
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