Cisco, ConnectWise come together for “Cisco-as-a-platform”

Nirav Sheth, vice president of solutions engineering and architectures in Cisco’s Global Partner Organization

Nirav Sheth, vice president of solutions engineering and architectures in Cisco’s Global Partner Organization

DALLAS — Cisco took a big step in the managed services arena Wednesday, announcing a partnership with managed services software giant ConnectWise to offer a ConnectWise integration across Cisco’s cloud-based products.

Dubbed ConnectWise Unite, the integration pulls data from Cisco’s systems, and provides a single pane of glass from which partners can managed Cisco’s Meraki networking, Umbrella and Stealthwatch Cloud security offerings, and Spark collaboration tool.

Nirav Sheth, vice president of solutions engineering and architectures in Cisco’s Global Partner Organization, said the integration is part of presenting “Cisco-as-a-platform” to partners — an easier way to sell, deploy, implement and manage the company’s cloud-based offerings, and is particularly targeted at the SMB market, which he described as a $675 billion (U.S.) IT spend worldwide.

“This is an unprecedented net new TAM for partners to go after,” Sheth said.

According to ConnectWise CeO Arnie Bellini, Unit will be offered as a standalone product to make it easier for Cisco partner who previously haven’t offered managed services to add managed services around the company’s services. But while Unite will be consumable on its own, it can clearly also co-exist with other ConnectWise modules for existing customers. Bellini said for existing ConnectWise customers, Unite presents “world-class enterprise solutions targeted at, and simple enough for, mid-sized business, which is where many of our partners play.”

Arnie Bellini, CEO of ConnectWise

Arnie Bellini, CEO of ConnectWiseCi

“Managed services company have aspired to using the Cisco product suite, and now it’s being delivered in a way they can deliver and consume simply,” Bellini said. “This changes the game. This is about telephony, collaboration, cloud networking, and security. You wrap all of that in, and it’s a very comprehensive solution that opens up lots of new doors and new revenues.”

Presumably, Cisco partners who arrive into the ConnectWise world via Unite will be able to later add the company’s other core MSP platform tools as their managed service business grows and evolves.

Although Cisco has long played in the managed services space, and even has a managed service partner program, Sheth described the Unite offering as primarily aimed at those in its channel who haven’t gone too far into managed services themselves — noting that when looking at the massive ranks of the company’s partner programs, the “bulk of our partners ecosystem who’s been focused on driving solutions to market and packaging their professional services around it” haven’t journeyed too far into managed services.

“It’s probably not a significant percentage” of the company’s overall partner base that are delivering managed services, he said. “This is an opportunity for resellers partners to get into that MSP space if they’re not here today.”

ConnectWise Unite is available now for partners in the Americas and Western and Northern Europe, with plans to expand internationally over the next year. It will cost $10 (U.S.) per customer per month after a free trial to run through January 1, 2018. Cisco also announced plans to debut SmartNet Services around Unite in the first quarter of next year.

In a separate but related announcement, the company announced an expansion of its Cisco EasyPay cloud software subscription program, which covers the same four cloud-based offerings as Unite. The program combines Cisco hardware (recorded as 90 per cent of value so there’s a residual to drive the post-subscription buyout or renewal discussion), software and services on a three-year lease agreement with monthly payments. The payment bundle works hand-in-hand with the Unite deployment and management bundle in the SMB market Sheth said.

Under EasyPay, Cisco pays out to partners up front, and then collects the monthly payment from the customer. Global channel chief Wendy Bahr reported the company has done more than $250 million in EasyPay business since its expansion earlier this year, and currently has $600 million in the pipeline.

Robert Dutt

Robert Dutt is the founder and head blogger at He has been covering the Canadian solution provider channel community for a variety of publications and Web sites since 1997.