Cisco To Co-Fund Business Architecture Training For Channel Partners

By D.H. Kass

June 18, 2010

Cisco Systems Inc. said that it will fund up to 75 percent of costs incurred by channel partners for business architecture training, encompassing business analytics and process skills, and technology tracks in collaboration, data center/virtualization and the vendor’s borderless networks initiative.

The company said that it will underwrite about $10,000 of the $13,000 cost per individual trained in Business Architecture solutions. The offer applies to its Gold, Silver and Premier-level channel partners.

Some 380 Cisco Learning Partners worldwide deliver the vendor’s training portfolio, although only a handful currently are qualified to supply the business architecture training.

Cisco said that the co-funding offer, the vendor’s first ever for architecture skills training, runs through the end of July. It is confined to one representative per partner organization, the company said.

“Partner architectural training is a new offer we have for our Gold, Silver and Premier partners to build and strengthen their professional services practice by adding business analytics and business process consulting skills,” said Andres Sintes (pictured), Cisco global director, Worldwide Learning Partner Channel.

“We want partners to use their technical expertise and the relevancy of the technology and integrate it within the landscape of the customer’s business,” he said.

Sintes said that Cisco has extended an earlier mid-June deadline for the co-funding offer because its channel partners have expressed interest in the training. So far, about 200 resellers, balanced evenly worldwide, have signed on, Sintes said.

He said that for channel partners the Business Architecture training amounts to a four- to six-month engagement, including five days of on-site training followed by a period of a few months in which partners put the new skills into practice, concluding with a short, on-site review session.

“Because of the complexity of solutions and the network itself, our partners need to be very intimate with the customers’ needs not just on the technology front but the business elements of that customer,” Sintes said.

“From an architectural perspective, this course is going to give them the ability to have the analytical skills and the business consultancy to address customers’ needs, CxO requirements, and to differentiate themselves with customers,” he said.

New Learning Partner designations, courses tied to architecture specializations

Cisco recently rolled out new training courses to help channel partners attain the Business Architect and Technical Architect designations, reflecting the vendor’s progression away from specializations earned by technology and toward the building of architectural sales expertise.

The vendor also recently altered the framework under which its Learning Partners operate, initiating new designations that map to its education specializations.

As of August 2011, Cisco’s Learning Partners will be re-categorized into two groups, namely Associate or Specialized.

Associates will focus on delivering baseline Cisco certifications, including its flagship Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP), while Specialized organizations will offer business solutions and technology architecture training for data center, borderless networks, security and other specializations.

Yolanda Salas, Cisco senior manager, Learning Partner channel, said that the new designations “will be in place for fiscal year 2012.”

She said that the vendor had added about 30 Learning Partners to its roster in the last few months. Tandberg’s training partners will be absorbed into Cisco’s organization, Salas said.

“We’re working with Learning Partner organizations like New Horizons and NIIT that have a broad franchise model,” Salas said. “We’re getting great traction in emerging markets where we haven’t been before.”

Salas said that Cisco’s Specialized Learning Partners, while maintaining a business practice in Cisco’s core certifications, must also make an “investment in bench strength and build a practice around a set of technologies and solutions that align with Cisco’s architectural approach.”

Cisco expects that about 40 percent of its Learning Partners will be able to deliver architectural training on a least one education specialization from among data center/virtualization, collaboration or borderless networks.

A smaller segment of the vendor’s lineup of Learning Partners will qualify to deliver all three education specializations, Salas said.

To qualify to supply the data center/virtualization education specialization, a Specialized Learning Partner must have on staff a minimum of four certified instructors, maintain a 4.5 out of 5 quality rating, at least four instructors must be able to deliver the 10 courses that comprise the data center/virtualization practice including passing exams associated with the classes, and maintain a VMware certification.

Salas said that Cisco is encouraging collaboration among its Associate and Specialized Learning Partners, including launching a social community and offering partners heightened visibility on the vendor’s Partner Locator site.

She also said that some of Cisco’s Learning Partners are expanding the use of video in an e-learning setting.

“Our Learning Partners are more effective now with e-learning,” Salas said. “We’ve been talking about it for a long time but it hasn’t really gotten off the ground. Now with video, WebEx and Telepresence, using video lets instructors do more than they could previously do and we have a much better adoption rate.”