Moving Ahead With Certifications



Cisco is one of the worldwide leaders innetworking, that transforms how peopleconnect, communicate and collaborate.Today, networks are an essential part of the business,education, government and home communicationsegments, and Cisco Internet Protocol-based (IP)networking solutions are the foundation of thesenetworks.

As a company, Cisco was founded in 1984 by asmall group of computer scientists from StanfordUniversity. Since its inception, Cisco engineers havebeen leaders in the development of Internet Protocol(IP)-based networking technologies. This traditionof innovation continues with industry-leadingproducts in the core areas of routing and switching,as well as advanced technologies in areas such ashome networking, IP telephony, optical,network security, storage networking andwireless LAN. Cisco hardware, software, andservice offerings are used to create Internetsolutions that allow individuals, companies,and countries to increase productivity,improve customer satisfaction andstrengthen competitive advantage. At Cisco,our vision is to change the way people work,live, play and learn.

Incorporated on December 10, 1984 inCalifornia, Cisco was listed on the NASDAQon February 16, 1990 and has close to 70,000employees worldwide. John T Chambers isthe company’s Chairman and CEO. Meanwhile,Cisco Systems India commenced operationsin 1995, and houses a staff pool of about6,500 people, spread across R&D, sales andbusiness support. Our customers are spreadacross sectors as diverse as banking,government, retail, healthcare, serviceproviders, ITeS, among others. Cisco’s go-to-market strategy in India is through its channelpartners. We have evolved our channelprogram so customers can identify the typeof channel partner to best meet their needs. Today,we conduct almost 100 percent of our businessthrough our channel partners, and we have no directbusiness with any of the consumer verticals. This,obviously, makes our channel partners an extremelycritical part of our business focus in India and wehave various programs around the needs of partnersto help drive growth, engagement and loyalty.

The channel team is differentiated on the basisof the region and the kind of channel partners thatthey manage. Each position is managed by a ‘Partner’who is the Business Manager for the particularregion. As a company policy, we do not disclose thenames of individual channel leads/heads. In terms of channel policy, we have a system of hierarchy inplace and classify our partners based on the nature ofbusiness they are into. Our channel eco-systemcomprises of 1,500 resellers and partners pan India. Inthe first tier of our channel network, we have thesystem integrators in place who are sub-categorisedinto Gold and Silver. This tier is followed by themanaged services partner and service providersfollowed closely by the partners arising of the’Architecture led partnership’ policy of the company.Focusing on the verticals, we have the ‘vertical partner’ecosystems and ‘transformational partnerships’ cateringto particular business and consumer verticals. In termsof distribution, we have tied-up with Redington, IngramMicro, Compuage and Comstor. These partners areknown as Distillate Partners which are again sub-categorised into Premier and Select besides the regularhorde of Registered Resellers.

Ingram Micro and Redington have been ourdistributors for over a decade now, and in the lastyear, we added Comstor and Compuage. Comstor wasadded, primarily to increase coverage in tier-3 andtier-4 cities and focus on driving our ‘Fast Track’products. Comstor was added as a value-addeddistributor to drive our advanced technology productsinto the marketplace. Being a 100 percent channeldriven company, certification and channel trainingoccupies a key aspect in our Indian perspective. TheCisco Channel Partner Program certification levels arebased on the number and type of technology specializations a partner achieves and reflect theirbreadth of skills across key technologies. Theprogram has four levels of certification: Select,Premier, Silver and Gold each with specificrequirements and modules. By choosing to specializein multiple technology areas that are related to coreproduct and services offering, partners furthervalidate their broad-based value proposition tocustomers. In the Gold category, advanced routingand switching, advanced security, advanced unifiedcommunications, and advanced wireless LAN modulesare offered. In the Silver category, the partner canchoose to specialize either in two programs fromthe Gold module or opt for Express UnifiedCommunications Specialization and one of theadvanced specializations in routing and switching,security, or wireless LAN.

However, the most important thing forCisco in terms of certification is based onthe partner’s profile of market recognitionand branding where we provide recognitionfor technology expertise throughspecializations and individual careercertification requirements. Secondly,validation and credibility is another aspectwhereby the topline is also considered.Besides, we also conduct annual audits toensure that the integrity and quality of Silverand Gold Certified Partners and MasterSpecialized Partners are maintained.ensuringthat only the highest-quality partners arepart of the program. For all customers,partners, resellers, and distributors who holdvalid Cisco service contracts, Cisco providesaround-the-clock, award-winning technicalsupport services, online and over the phone.Cisco Technical Assistance Centre (TAC) isan online service request tool available toregistered Cisco.com users with a validservice contract. Additionally, distributionand distillate partners can provide theirown postsales support or resell Cisco SMARTnetcontracts. SMARTnet delivers rapid issue resolution,flexible device-by-device coverage, and premiumservice options to help maximize operationalefficiency.

Customer satisfaction through Cisco channelpartners is a quantitative measure of both presalesand postsales support that an end customerexperiences while purchasing Cisco products orservices from a partner.

AVISHEK RAKSHIT
(avishekr@cybermedia.co.in)
(Read full version at dqchannels.com)

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