LAS VEGAS — Cisco partners with staff engaged with its Devnet developers’ program and community are growing 10 per cent faster than their peers, according to the company’s developer program lead.
Partners that embrace development are also more likely to have a broader based of business, selling solutions based on eight Cisco product families, compared to the average partner representation of three product groups, according to Susie Wee, general manager for Devnet and newly-minted senior vice president at Cisco.
It’s the first time Cisco has looked into the business impact of its developer community, membership in which has just passed 530,000, and Wee acknowledges that the growth and breadth numbers may be more akin to correlation than causation. But with the company moving more towards software with every new product release, the future for many Cisco partners may well include developers — either in starring or supporting role in the solutions they craft for customers.
“Once people start developing software, they start to be able to build more complete solutions for their customers,” Wee said. “They’re able to take those skills and apply them to more areas. Customers want complete solutions, and software skills help develop that.”
Wee has championed the Devnet group since its inception five years ago, and has seen the conversation with its channel partners change significantly over that time. In the early days, there was a lot of interest in the idea of building code-based skills, but Wee said she spent way more time convincing early partners that they should invest in it as an area of expertise in their business. Today, some of those early-day skeptics are “some of the best coders out there,” she said, and they’re “using that to differentiate and create new business opportunities as well.”
She’s helped by the overall focus on software and programmability that has become perhaps Cisco’s biggest focus over the last two years, helping encourage partners to move in the same directions. That has reduced one early-days source of friction. Five years ago, she said, it was easy to say what being a developer meant to a Google, Microsoft, or Apple. But for a Cisco, whose world in those days was best expressed through networking hardware accessed through a command line interface, it wasn’t always clear what being a developer meant.
Today, she sees partners embracing software expertise in many ways. In a recent swing through Europe, meeting top Cisco partners on that continent, she says she saw partners “spinning out” development capabilities into their own side business to help their core solutions business, and some even changing the very name and definition of their organization in recognition of the importance of software development in their future.
That’s not to say every partners is 100 per cent on board in 2018. There are still perhaps some skeptics in the channel — those who don’t believe that writing code is a key part of their business going forward. And that’s fine with Wee. Her message to such partners is that “you don’t need to be a coder to be a developer,” and that even those who don’t ever want to write a line of “Hello World!” code themselves would be well-served to have at least the basics of “speaking the language” of developers, since in many cases, they’ll have to work with and direct developers as they craft solutions for customers.