Cisco looking to move managed services through channel

Ruba Borno, vice president and general manager of Cisco managed services

Cisco executives often talk about the high percentage of the company’s business that goes through its partner ecosystem. But managed services — at least those offered by Cisco — have largely been a direct play. These services have largely been focused on large enterprise IT environments as “transformation specialists,” said Ruba Borno, vice president and general manager of Cisco managed services. 

But Borno was at Partner Summit 2019 last week in Las Vegas to make it clear that it is shifting. The company announced a trio of managed services that will be offered through channel partners, addressing three of the company’s top technology and market priorities.

The company has spent the last year building out its plans for the channel, and Borno presented them at Partner Summit as a way for solution providers to more quickly build out managed services.

“We know that partners take six to 18 months to build out a managed service, and we want to help them build up as quickly as possible,” Borno said.

The Cisco-offered managed services —around managed security detection and response, secure SD-WAN, and Unified Communication Manager Cloud — are being designed as “operate offers” where solution providers can resell or white-label the offerings. 

Borno said the company’s goal introducing the service through partners is to reach beyond its traditional market in the high end of the enterprise and to empower the company’s partners for however long they may need it. Borno said the company welcomes partners simply reselling the company’s offers, or reselling and wrapping their own services offerings around the Cisco-provided managed service, or even using Cisco as a time-to-market accelerator.

“If they decide over time to build out their own capabilities, that’s fine by us,” Borno said. “They’ve sold it. They’ve got the relationship. If they choose to take it over, that’s fine.”

The services all lend themselves to partners bringing their own services as wraparound, Borno said, particularly because two of the services are directly security-related, and even with UCM Cloud, security is a key consideration.

“Our partners will bring their expertise in aggregating insights across multiple technologies and putting in the context of their customers’ businesses,” she said. “Our partners have customer insight that we just do not, and they can do the third-party integration that we cannot.”

Cisco brings it north of 80 percent of its overall revenues through or with partners. But today, Borno said its managed services business in the channel is “a single-digit” percentage of its overall revenues. 

“We expect that to grow significantly,” Borno said. “We want to shift it so that our channel revenues look like the rest of Cisco. I’d love to match the rest of the company because it means we’re enabling a lot of customers successfully together.”

Cisco’s timeline for the managed services launches in Canada will see its UCM Cloud offering go live in January 2020, with MDR following in March, and Secure SD-WAN in April.

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. 

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