LAS VEGAS — As Cisco continues to drive towards software, it is making an essential change to its partner programs to reward partners for investing in their software development capabilities. At its Partner Summit here, the networking giant announced plans to introduce a partner specialization around its DevNet developer program.
When it launches in the summer of next year, the DevNet specialization will be the company’s second business-level specialization for partners, joining the recently-launched customer experience specialization. And together, the two are a telling tale of where Cisco sees its future and that of its partners.
Susie Wee, senior vice president and CTO of DevNet at Cisco, said the developer group already has strong momentum in the Cisco channel. There are some 9,000 partner organizations with DevNet members in their ranks, for a total of about 50,000 individuals involved in DevNet from its partner ranks.
“All of you, our partners, are already investing in DevNet, and we’re here to give you the skills you need,” she said.
Wee, Gerri Elliott, Cisco’s sales and marketing chief, and Marc Surplus, vice president of partner strategy and programs, all stressed that DevNet membership is already making a difference for the company’s partners. In particular, partners who have practices around DevNet typically tack an additional 3.8 points of margin onto their software renewal deals, beating out those who do not go as deep on software by a score of 14.2 percent to 10.4 percent.
The specialization announced at Partner Summit comes on the heels of the introduction of a series of DevNet-focused certifications for professionals at Cisco Live earlier this year. And Oliver Tuszik, Cisco’s global channel chief, announced at Partner Summit that partners’ DevNet certifications would count towards their Gold Partner recertification for the first time.
“We’re motivating our partners to go into these new ways of delivering the network through the agility of software, and we’ll add programs and incentives over time,” Tuszik said.
He noted that the more than six months of lead time between the announcement and the launch of the DevNet specialization gives partners “time to prepare for this, to jump on this train.”
In a briefing session with press, Tuszik stressed that he sees the software specialization as an opportunity for both companies that have historically been Cisco partners and those who have not.
“We see more partners joining us who are not classic Cisco partners and never will be,” Tuszik said. “There’s a huge installed base out there for them to program on” with the number of APIs and other development hooks Cisco is putting in across its product portfolio.
Surplus, meanwhile, drilled down on the opportunity for that “classic” Cisco partner, noting that among its most profitable partners, every dollar of Cisco products sold carries an attach of 53 cents around DevOps.
“That’s a high-margin business, and it’s sticky,” Surplus added.
While details of the specialization are still in development, Surplus mentioned a long list of benefits to the specialization, ranging from market recognition and differentiation to early access to APIs.
In a panel conversation, partners expressed a variety of different experiences and approaches to the DevNet program. Mike Dorman, COO of UK-based Natilik, said DevNet members within the organization had pressed leadership to get more involved in the program for years. Over the last twelve months, the organization has “really embraced” DevNet and what it has to offer.
“We’ve been nurturing and developing coders within our business, and now 20 percent of the people in our business are coders and part of the DevNet machine,” he said. “We’re very keen to develop intellectual property. We think that’s a really important part of our recurring revenue and annuity streams.”
Sean Rollman, CTO of U.S.-based Interwork Engineering, said his company’s DevNet journey began by working on automating internal processes, but the development-related services have proven popular enough that his people “aren’t available to me anymore” because they’re finding many opportunities offering similar services for customers.
“We definitely see [DevNet] as a way of differentiating ourselves going forward,” Rollman said.
Jonathan Barouch, CEO of Australia-based Local Measure, comes into DevNet from a less traditional Cisco partner’s viewpoint, being a development company by nature. Still, he said he sees great opportunity in DevNet getting closer to the company’s usual partners — it’s creating a new and exciting channel for his company’s offerings.
“DevNet has done a great job of helping traditional partners not be afraid of code,” Barouch said. “Slowly, they’re starting to get it.”