Cisco Partner Summit’s always chock-full of announcements, and part of the challenge for a Cisco beat reporter is to not only give the major pieces of news their due weight, but also pick up on the subtler stuff. You know what I mean: the nuggets of information that, while not loaded with splashy details and “wow” moments, often have profound implications for how Cisco partners do business in key product lines, services and market segments.
No question this year’s marquee Partner Summit launch was Cisco’s Services Partner Program (CSPP). It’s a big move for Cisco partners who on average are seeing 50 percent of their top line and 75 percent of their bottom line from services revenue these days — up from less than 25 percent in the former category five years ago, according to Cisco’s partner profitability surveys.
But based on numerous conversations I had with Cisco partners big and small this week, partners are jazzed about two other things in particular. One is that Cisco will make Jabber, its software for embedding access to various Cisco UC functions into various client devices and operating systems, available at no additional license cost for customers that are already using Cisco Unified Communications Manager.
According to solution providers, that’s a much bigger move than it appears, because it’s going to greatly simplify how quickly they can get Jabber into the hands of more customers, customer sites and devices quickly and save both themselves and their customers money when doing so (more on that in an article you’ll see on CRN.com shortly).
And on the competitive front, no question the Jabber decision is an “en garde” move against Microsoft, which Cisco made clear at Partner Summit is now a major competitor in the UC space. (Note that it was Microsoft, not Avaya –whose global UC market share is neck-and-neck with Cisco’s — that Cisco global sales boss Rob Lloyd called out from the stage during his closing keynote.)
The subject of Lync adoption has changed a lot with Cisco partners over the past two years. It was barely a curiosity in 2010, argued about but brushed off in 2011, and now “yeah, Lync is for real,” in 2012. The long-marinating showdown we’ve been wondering about between Cisco and Microsoft ever since Microsoft got rolling in VoIP in 2007 is now very much “on.”
You’ll recall, for example, how Cisco rather cattily called out Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype as bad for customers and in need of conditions — although, since Microsoft is also a Cisco partner in some respects, Cisco stopped short of saying it opposed the merger, which was completed in October 2011.
Jabber could prove a critical Cisco weapon in this fight.