One issue that came up is what precisely is the definition of managed services. From Cisco's point of view it is as follows:
Information technology which is remotely managed and provisioned, delivered as a finished product - operated by skilled professionals from a NOC.
Safarikas mentioned where the equipment sits is immaterial and this makes good sense.
Other points worth noting from our conversation are as follows:
- Predefined SLAs that are negotiated with end users
- It does not matter where the box sits or who owns them
- Companies want managed services to support business initiatives
From there we discussed how Cisco helps its partners deliver managed services.
The company has expanded on the popular Cisco Powered program and helps its partners with sales and marketing, providing channel managers and other services to ensure a partner's success. AT&T Telepresence is a great example of this.
I asked what pain Cisco takes away for customers and to this Safarikas replied, "Partner with Cisco and improve your chance for success with managed services - We have the best technology, understanding of the marketplace, best capability of building [our customer's] operating capabilities through Cisco professional services."
This was a pretty memorable meeting and Cisco should be commended for looking to help the industry by defining terms such as managed services. All too often terms like CRM, unified communications and others get watered down due to the lack of a specific definition of the term. From my vantagepoint, anything that can be done to help purchasing decision-makers better understand a market should be done and hats off to Cisco for being a leader on this front.