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Cisco’s specialization portfolio is evolving to showcase partner value

March 01, 2022

Cisco’s specialization portfolio is evolving to showcase partner value
At the 2021 Cisco Partner Summit held on November 8, Cisco announced significant changes coming to its specializations within the next 18 months. Unlike the current specializations, which are architecture-based (i.e., Enterprise Networking, Security, Collaboration and Data Center), the new ones will be solutions-based.
“The new route to achieve the new specializations is similar to how it changed Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP) requirements,” says Bobby Young, Cisco technology consultant at Ingram Micro. “Previously, if someone earned their CCNP Security certification and then wanted to get Enterprise Networking certified, they had to start from scratch. Now, it’s set up more like a college where you have core classes, and you can choose a few electives. Then, once you have enough credits, you can graduate. Similarly, the new specialization format will allow partners to be more agile in today’s ever-changing environments.”
How the new solution specializations will work
Marc Surplus, Cisco’s VP of partner strategy and programs, discussed the details of the new solution specializations at Partner Summit. “Cisco will be elevating the Cisco-powered designations into our specialization portfolio to provide managed services providers with more freedom as they deliver solutions to their customers,” he said. “And then we will be adding a business specialization to our existing business specialization DevNet and customer experience.”
Cisco will start with the following five solution specializations, which address large and growing total addressable markets (TAMs):
  • Secure, agile networks ($98B TAM by 2025).
  • Hybrid work ($83B TAM by 2025).
  • End-to-end security ($80B TAM by 2025).
  • Internet for the future ($50B TAM by 2025).
  • Optimized application experiences ($36B TAM by 2025).
 Within the new solution specializations, partners can pursue one of three levels, including:
  • Offer specialization is comparable to the current Select level and includes the foundational building blocks of knowledge and performance.
  • Solution specialization is comparable to Premier and Gold levels and is achieved through specializing in multiple offers and showcasing a greater span of expertise.
  • Upper-tier specialization recognizes partners for their deep technical skills, demonstrated customer lifecycle approach and validated intellectual property with their customers.
Let’s look at one of the five solution specializations, optimized application experiences (OAE), to see how the new solution specializations work. A few specific offers within this specialization include:
  • Full-stack observability
  • Cloud-native platform
  • Application security
“A partner could invest in one of the above specializations to achieve offer specialization,” says Surplus. “Partners that invest in two or more offers gain solution specialization in OAE and partners that invest even more gain upper-tier OAE.”
The new solution specializations will also eliminate the previous point system, role-sharing limitations and architectural siloes.
Besides the five solution specializations mentioned earlier, Cisco is introducing a new Environmental Sustainability Specialization, available in the second half of 2022. This specialization recognizes partners’ green credentials and is closely aligned with the Cisco Takeback and Reuse program, which allows customers to return end-of-use Cisco products at no cost.
In early February, the company also unveiled the Cisco Partner Launch Experience site, which includes videos and resources focused on the new Solution Specialization categories. 
For more information about Cisco specialization updates, including discounted training opportunities, contact Ingram Micro Training at Training@ingrammicro.com.