Cisco has called on partners to help customers address the "negative byproducts" of moving to the cloud by adopting its multi-cloud approach.
Speaking at Cisco's Partner Connection Week in the Bahamas, Cisco VP of growth initiative Ruba Borno said that customers have been caught off guard by the challenges of moving to the cloud.
Borno told partners that currently four in five Cisco customers use more than one cloud, but need more assistance when it comes to managing these infrastructures.
"We know that it is a multi-cloud world and so we want to simplify the cloud," she said. "There is no such thing as a single public or private cloud.
"There was this perception that moving to the cloud was going to be simpler and [customers thought] they would just pay for what they consume, and it was going to be wonderful and they'd get all this innovation.
"But that massively disrupted environment had pretty negative byproducts: lack of visibility, increased fragmentation, and more complexity rather than less, especially when it comes to connecting and applying policy.
"Our focus and your opportunity is helping our customers navigating through that journey because that simpler future - that utopia that we're talking about - actually can exist and we will play a role in enabling that for customers."
But Cisco says that the cloud - and new technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning - require partners to position themselves differently in the market.
Wendy Bahr, senior vice president of Cisco's Global Partner Organisation, said partners should specifically be adapting to target three key areas.
"We have to reinvent how we go to market," she said. "We have to change how we go to market by setting out that expectation [from customers] differently.
"We know we're transacting differently with new consumption models; we also have to change how we grow in terms of our profitability, with activation, adoption, expansion and renewal.
"I would suggest the three biggest opportunities we have are core networking, security and multi-cloud. When you couple in the life-cycle value and that services revenue, these are the three big tickets."
These three areas, Bahr said, are increasingly involving machine learning and automation, in particular Cisco's intent-based network which was launched last year.
She acknowledged this automation might cause some partners to worry about the part they have to play in the network, but stressed that their role will remain as important as ever if they adapt to offer new services.
"Despite the fact that we're automating and introducing machine learning and artificial intelligence, you are at the centre of this intent-based networking," she promised.
"It positions you as that trusted adviser to the customer, as long as you develop the services that bring this to life. We see this as our number one biggest driver for growth in the future, but it means we have to transform from manual services - command-line interface, close to the box - to digital services."
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