Cisco mobilises channel as ThousandEyes commits to partners

Recently acquired network visibility vendor joins Cisco ecosystem.
Vicki Batka (Cisco) and Michael Reid (ThousandEyes)

Vicki Batka (Cisco) and Michael Reid (ThousandEyes)

Cisco has opened the door to channel expansion via ThousandEyes, formally on-boarding the recently acquired vendor into an ecosystem of partners armed and ready to capitalise on market demand for network intelligence and visibility.

Effective immediately, the move sees the San Francisco-based start-up -- snapped up by Cisco for approximately $1 billion in May 2020 -- join the technology giant’s general price list and partner program, aided by increased levels of enablement, training and distribution support.

In shifting to a “100 per cent” channel model, ThousandEyes is attempting to add new layers of “incremental value” to partners selling across the Cisco portfolio, layering on top of current architecture to enhance customer experience levels.

“We’ve seen astounding growth and we're going all-in on the channel,” said Michael Reid, chief revenue officer of ThousandEyes. “The market is exploding but accessing such a market is the real trick and this is what the Cisco ecosystem allows us the ability to do, take a relatively small company with a strong story and scale it everywhere.”

Founded in 2010 by Mohit Lad and Ricardo Oliveira, ThousandEyes goes to market with deep experience in networking, Internet routing and software-as-a-service (SaaS), working with more than 100 customers in the Fortune 500.

“If you examine the key mega trends taking shape across the industry, cloud is now the new data centre amid a prolific move from on-premises data centres to cloud,” Reid outlined. “The next is that SaaS is the new ‘app stack’ with the search underway for better digital experience and in that search, control is being lost from an IT perspective.

“Add in the fact that COVID-19 has forced the entire industry to work remotely and you arrive at the conclusion that the Internet is the only element that makes all of these mega trends work. The Internet has become the core backbone which represents a significant change for IT.”

According to Reid, the IT department used to control dark fibre private networks, internal team compute capabilities and office connection points.

“Yet now IT relies on the Internet which they have no control over,” he noted. “ThousandEyes provides visibility into that space and represents a key acquisition for Cisco partners.”

In addition to “uniqueness” of product and architectural alignment, Reid also acknowledged the importance of “synergy” in embracing the Cisco channel, referencing the vendor’s strong relationships with networking buying centres and teams which run and manage networks.

“That's where we live and this product solves that problem,” he added. “This represents a huge pivot for our business and we’re conforming to Cisco.

“When we hit the market as a start-up we focused on the top end of town and went after Fortune 500 customers. This was predominantly a ‘feet-on-the-street’ type approach which was basically hand-to-hand combat in the street. This wasn’t a scale motion and our channel was a much smaller function, now with Cisco, we have pivoted and continue to move away from direct orders in favour of partners.”

Scaling via the Cisco channel

From a partner perspective, ThousandEyes will continue to run as a standalone brand with company products now added to the Cisco price list and distribution portfolios across all regions in Asia Pacific, alongside additional support spanning large-scale global system integrators (GSI) to tier-2 managed service providers (MSPs).

“We immediately recognised the need for partners to think about visibility in customer conversations and this represents a great opportunity to put the spotlight on ThousandEyes,” said Vicki Batka, vice president of Partner Sales across Asia Pacific, Japan and China (APJC) at Cisco. “We have already been aggressive working with a small section of early adopter partners deploying ThousandEyes -- such as NTT -- so this represents a natural fit.”

Following the integration period, Batka said plans are now underway to increase training and enablement efforts via Black Belt -- the vendor’s partner academy built in Asia Pacific -- and distribution partners.

“It's not like we're starting from today, we definitely have momentum,” Batka explained. “We’re already processing a number of transactions so this just means that all barriers are removed and partners can go very hard in market. Our aim is to teach and train the channel because it’s not just about selling, we need to ensure partners have the right skills to be successful.”

Batka said some partners are also using the technology in-house as a tool in managed services offerings to help detect network issues, evident through large telecom and service provider agreements across the region.

“Partners can sell through any cloud provider or via managed services,” Batka added. “This represents a strong piece of technology to integrate into managed services and because of this, our portfolio becomes stronger.”

Enhancing experience levels

In assessing customer priorities post-pandemic, Tal Nathan -- vice president of Go-to-Market at NTT in Australia -- cited hybrid work, cloud and SaaS as key areas of focus in the months and years ahead.

“The mega trends are real and as a GSI, we cannot rely on the old way of working whereby users control the corporate network, control the application stack and control the software,” Nathan stated. “Users and employees now reside all over the world, connecting to corporate sites without customer control.”

In drawing on expertise in data centre modernisation and cloud migration, as well as customer and employee experience, Nathan said ThousandEyes allows NTT to not only monitor networks, but create “actionable insights” in the process.

“As an MSP, we obviously need to understand the root cause of challenges in the network and ThousandEyes allows us to identify whether the problem lies with system A or infrastructure B,” he added. “Ultimately, this helps create a more effective experience for customers which is the next battle in the world of digital.”

Building on a deep heritage in providing enterprise-grade Cisco technologies, NTT is no stranger to the vendor’s technology stack with an in-market partnership spanning multiple decades.

For Nathan, the addition of ThousandEyes into the partner ecosystem represents a “natural step” given the provider’s focus on deploying and managing complex network infrastructure and applications at scale.

“We’re ready to go deep across the application and performance monitoring space but we're also investing in our own consulting led capabilities,” he said. “ThousandEyes represents an attach to our core infrastructure managed services but also a consulting led engagement.”

Meanwhile in India, Velocis is also rolling out ThousandEyes to help improve network visibility offerings and complement current Cisco solutions.

“Previously, blind to the issues happening outside their network, we have helped our customers by using ThousandEyes’ technology to peer into network flows traversing from campus environments across to collaboration applications hosted on the cloud,” outlined Hemant Chadha, senior vice president of Technology at Velocis.

“For remote workers, we are able to drill into the insights and provide visibility which will provide them with a level of insight our customers simply didn’t have before.”

Likewise in Indonesia, with Joko Gunawan -- vice president director of PT. Mastersystem Infotama -- referencing ThousandEyes’ ability to “pinpoint problems across enterprise networks and the Internet”, which has helped the business “improve performance and keep our enterprise customers satisfied”.