How Cisco Sees Cloud UC&C
Eric Schoch is driving Cisco's strategy for cloud-based services. He sat down with Dave Michels to explain where they're headed.
Eric Schoch is the General Manager of Cisco's Hosted Collaboration Business Unit (HCS), which represents Cisco's UC&C cloud strategy. While most premises vendors have jumped directly into offering cloud services, Cisco's strategy includes both its WebEx brand of cloud services in addition to partnering with service providers and system integrators with solutions optimized to create cloud services. HCS packages Cisco products to service providers intending to deliver their own branded UC&C cloud service for enterprise organizations. HCS was announced in the summer of 2010.
Prior to Cisco, Eric briefly ran the Americas Sales at Polycom, and spent over a decade at Nortel in various positions including general management, sales and marketing, business development, and product marketing. He holds an MBA from the University of Texas and currently lives in the Dallas Metroplex. Eric enjoys the outdoors, including golfing and boating. His time off from Cisco gets split between soccer games with his son, gymnastic events with his daughter, and family time on the boat.
At a recent event, Eric and I enjoyed some Texas-style steaks and discussed UC, the cloud, and HCS. The conversation went something like this:
DM: Can you briefly describe what HCS offers to service providers?
ES: HCS offers a productized architectural solution accompanied by a commercial model and joint-go-to market partnership approach. We refer to this as a "whole offer".
There are 5 key "gets" our partners receive. First, the productized solution provides a series of critical system utilities such that the whole system is more than the sum of the individual parts. Secondly, because we have productized the solution, as opposed to a reference architecture, we have a roadmap and long term strategy that is heavily influenced by our partners and customers alike. This strategy is of course consistent with and an element of our larger Collaboration Technology Group architecture strategy. Third, we have a portfolio of professional service offerings that we have productized to support the partners in the design, build, support, maintenance, and operations of the solution. Fourth, we have a purpose-built commercial model and licensing terms that are the underpinnings of the business relationship. And lastly, we jointly go to market with our HCS-certified partners through both a branded partner designation and jointly selling their certified cloud offerings.
DM: Hosted cloud services are gaining traction with small business, but Cisco's services, through its partners, are targeted at companies with at least 100 employees. Why is that?
ES: We refer to our vision for HCS as "One"...one architecture, one operational model, one commercial model for our partners to serve their target customers. We believe our architectural strategy will allow for us to deliver this level of efficiency, operational scale, and business agility to our partners and end users. As with any execution of a vision, it is critical to focus and establish a certain amount of positive momentum in order to allow for the greatest chance to "cross the chasm". We are working on our phased approach to optimize the cost structure of the architecture and velocity of the integration to partner's back office systems to drive greater business agility across all segments.
DM: Does HCS actually host services, or simply sell products to providers for hosting?
ES: Elements of the offering, such as WebEx conferencing, are hosted and delivered by Cisco and resold by our partners while the majority of the workloads, or applications, are hosted and delivered by our partners. In selective instances, as an Advanced Service, we will work with a partner to operate the system on their behalf. This arrangement can include the data center facilities or simply our services performed in the partner's data center. We refer to this offering as a Build, Operate, Transfer, or an 'Assured Operate Service".
DM: In what parts of the world does HCS offer solutions?
ES: At the end of our fiscal year we had 34 HCS partner franchises signed, although not all are publicly announced. Those partners will cover over 19 geographies around the world in most of the major developed markets. We have the most consistent coverage across US, Canada, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Eight Partners intend to offer services globally targeting multinational corporations. Having been commercially available for six quarters, we have made significant progress and anticipate a similar pace over the next four quarters.
DM: Is your Contact Center experience targeted as a premises/cloud hybrid solution for existing customers, or is it meant more as a standalone offering?
ES: Our offering is targeted at both. We are seeing a market need and request for both models.
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