Cisco Systems will work with its biggest international channel partners to offer more comprehensive service and support to customers, especially multinational enterprises.
Under the Global Services Alliance programme, Cisco will co-ordinate its support more tightly with that of its partners and set out to jointly offer "services stacks", which may include installation, planning and design of systems in addition to traditional operational support, said Pierre Damestoy, director of global alliances for Cisco's Customer Advocacy division.
Channel partners typically share support tasks with suppliers on an "a la carte" basis, and tighter co-ordination can lead to faster responses to customers, according to IDC analyst Ken Presti.
For example, a supplier may not have staff in a particular city and a partner may not be able to fix systems, and knowing that ahead of time can smooth out the work, he said. Teaming up with a supplier such as Cisco on broader support programmes may also help to solve the channel companies' current biggest concern, declining profit margins from product sales, he added.
Services stacks are the minimum set of services necessary to successfully deploy a certain technology, Damestoy said.
That may include elements such as optimisation of the technology for performance and security, he said. Cisco will define the services stacks and then make sure that all their elements are provided by either Cisco or the partner.
"We need to find [partners] that will be highly complementary to our own service offering to provide the full lifecycle service to a particular customer," he said. "Cisco has no intention, on our own, to provide all these services."
To participate in the Global Services Alliance programme, a channel partner needs to have Cisco Gold Certified Partner status in the US and Japan as well as multinational certification in two of Cisco's three multi-country regions - Asia-Pacific, Americas International, and Europe, Middle East and Africa. They also will have to make ongoing investments, such as linking their own internal support systems to Cisco's.
Cisco is initially looking at about 10 partners as potential participants.
Stephen Lawson writes for IDG News Service