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Cisco Systems wants its partners to think about solutions from a “cross-architectural” perspective in line with how their customers now buy computing, executives said.

To that end, Cisco is expanding its newly streamlined partner program with two new “roles” and evolving its specialization track to focus on cross-architectural solutions specializations, the tech giant unveiled at the event on Tuesday. Virtual Cisco Partner Summit 2021.

Cisco’s restructured Partner Program was first introduced last year and focuses on four roles partners play for customers: integrator, supplier, developer and advisor. The integrator and supplier roles were launched last year. The developer and advisor roles will go live Nov. 29, Marc Surplus, vice president, strategy, planning and programs for Cisco’s global partner organization, told CRN.

Cisco said partners can naturally choose or fit into at least one of the roles and can also focus on more than one role as their business transforms. Each role will offer Cisco Gold, Premier, and Select tiers.

“Everything we do in our partner programs is about giving partners the choice to differentiate their Cisco practice,” Surplus said. “We’re always going to be value-based and we recognize and reward partners for the investments they make in their practice.”

Logicalis, a Cisco Integrator and Gold Supplier Partner, will also continue developer and advisory roles to help separate and differentiate parts of its business for its customer base, said Ron Temske, vice president of cybersecurity solutions, network and collaboration for business.

“For me, it’s really just acknowledging the change that was going to happen in the market regardless,” he said. “It’s just a way of demonstrating some skill and giving some credibility in the market to a client who may not have had the chance to work with you in this capacity.”

Cisco is getting started with the developer role, which already includes 1,000 partners with DevNet certifications and 1,600 approved partner solutions that Cisco is co-selling today with its first developer partners, Surplus said. “We’re on a roll with this one, and we’re not even live yet,” he said.

The Advisor role already has more than 250 partners actively co-selling with Cisco’s integrator and vendor partners. The average deal size for these partners increased 2.8x, Surplus said. “We are really excited to promote this co-sale,” he added.

Surplus said Cisco is seeing momentum with all four roles. There has been a 20% increase in the number of Customer Experience Partners and an 11% growth in the number of Premier and Select Partners within the Integrator Tier since its launch a year ago. Cisco has added over 40% more vendor partner types and there are currently over 2,200 Cisco-based managed services in the market today. “The strategy is working,” Surplus said.

Cisco is also evolving its portfolio of specializations by offering five areas of specialization based on cross-architectural solutions — analogous to Cisco’s advanced specializations — for partners accelerating in more than one Cisco offering: Secure Networks, Agile, Work hybrid, end-to-end ultimate security, Internet for the future, and optimized app experiences. The change, Surplus said, will help better present the value of partners to end customers. The five new areas of specialization will help partners qualify for the Premier and Gold tiers of Cisco’s Partner Program, the company said.

“Changes to our portfolio of specializations will be more aligned with the types of solutions customers demand and our partners sell,” Surplus said.

Surplus also announced that Cisco is reducing the administrative burden of earning specializations by eliminating continuous learning point requirements, individual role requirements, and architectural silos. Cisco is also removing learning point requirements from its current specializations structure, effective Tuesday. “We’re not going to tell our partners how to run their teams – they already know how to do that,” Surplus said.

Cisco will also offer a new environmental sustainability specialization for partners who want to showcase their green credentials. This specialization will be made available to partners in the second half of Cisco’s fiscal year 2022.

Cisco said it is moving away from the term “Master” in reference to its primary specialization designation so partners can continue to proudly display their level of specialization.

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