Cisco Offers Two New TelePresence Certifications, Learning Program for CCIE Voice

Vendor revamps TelePresence strategy to include more channel partners.

November 19, 2009

D.H. Kass

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Cisco Systems Inc. said it will offer certified status to channel partners that install and support its TelePresence products, pointing to an uptick in demand for collaboration solutions and its intention to make it easier for customers to adopt the technology.

The new certifications, termed Cisco TelePresence Solutions Specialist and Cisco TelePresence Installations Specialist, were prompted by Cisco’s decision to expand the part channel partners play in selling, building, installing and supporting the TelePresence platform, company officials said.

The vendor has relied on its own technicians to construct and install the TelePresence systems but an expansion of its video conferencing and collaboration portfolio suggested a broader role for solution providers, said Fred Weiller, Cisco marketing director for Learning@Cisco.

The Solutions Specialist certification is aimed at voice specialists or network engineers concentrating on the planning, design, implementation and maintenance of Cisco’s TelePresence platform. The Installations Specialist certification is targeted at technicians constructing and physically installing TelePresence series 500, 1000, 1100 and 1300.

Cisco’s Certified Network Associate badge is a prerequisite for the Solutions Specialist certification. The Installations Specialist tag carries no previous requirements.

“The Solution Specialist is in charge of setting up larger systems and networks to deploy TelePresence solutions in the right way,” Weiller said. “The Installations Specialist is focused on single-screen deployments and does not touch the network,” he said.

Cisco expects a steady ramp up for both certifications, Weiller said. The vendor estimates it will add “hundreds” of certified TelePresence Solution Specialists and “thousands” of TelePresence certified installers in the next two- to three years, he said.

Channel partners already authorized to sell the TelePresence platform through Cisco’s Advanced Technology program will be grandfathered into the new certifications, Weiller said. A handful of Cisco partners already have undertaken a beta version of the certifications, he said.

“When we first began offering the TelePresence solution about three years ago as a room-to-boardroom application, Cisco remained involved in the design and implementation to ensure the highest quality,” Weiller said. “It was a pretty conservative approach,” he said.

“Now that there are more single screen systems available, there is a broader role for partners. It makes sense to set up a program to train and certify our partners properly.”

Weiller said that both TelePresence certifications will be available in two or three months.

“Video and unified communications are fundamentally changing the way our business operates,” said Irene Kinoshita, president of Ascolta, an Irvine, CA-based Cisco Learning Solution Partner since the program’s inception.

“By providing job relevant training and certification to support these converging technologies, Cisco is opening the door for network engineers to further their careers, provide value to their employees, and deliver unprecedented opportunities for collaboration around the world.”

New learning program for CCIE Voice

In conjunction with the TelePresence certifications, the vendor also rolled out the Cisco 360 Learning Program for Voice. The offering is intended to help network engineers prepare for Cisco’s CCIE Voice examinations.

“CCIE has always been based on passing the exam,” Weiller said. “But Cisco has never developed a skills development program to prepare people for the exams. We built the 360 program for routing and switching, which we introduced last year, and now we have it for voice.”

Applicants take a pre-assessment test to determine gaps in their knowledge of voice technology and a customized learning program is built to address areas of need.

“Individuals who go through the program are three times more successful in passing the exam than those that don’t,” Weiller said.

The 360 Learning Program for Voice will be available through authorized Learning Partners on December 7th.

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