As a Cisco Partner, of course I will say that I have a special spot in my heart for most things Cisco. I consider them to be an industry leader, and while I personally focus on Collaboration products and tools, in my past life on the operations side of IT, I used Cisco products for many verticals within IT. That being said, as an “IT Consultant”, I would never choose Cisco products over another, if I found after research and testing that another vendor’s product works better. In my consulting life, I have found many instances where something other than Cisco works great and I can sleep well at night.
With that statement out of the way, I will admit that from a Collaboration product standpoint, I love Cisco. I have seen and used these sorts of products from all the big players, and Cisco is my primary recommendation in this space, so when I learned about the opportunity to become a Cisco Champion for 2016, I decided to go for it. I blog on Cisco Collab products anyways, I speak to customers about their products almost daily, I am constantly helping customers implement and manage their Cisco Collab infrastructures, why not take the leap and become part of the vendor advocacy group for Cisco?
At first, I was not sure what this would mean for me and our Byteworks’ clients. I mean, as a Cisco Partner, I’m already pretty ingrained within the Cisco Partner community and get advance training opportunities, product information, technical deep-dives, etc., so what more could I gain from one more “group” within Cisco? I was honored however, that my application was accepted and I was named a Cisco Champion for Collaboration for 2016, representing Byteworks. I had no idea what this would really mean at first.
After a few weeks though, and after attending several of the Champions “Radio Shows”, I’m blown away at the extra information and access this opportunity has afforded me. I have been able to hear directly from some of the most technical and brilliant minds at Cisco about new products and features coming out, whether it is Cisco HyperFlex, the Digital Ceiling, Cisco Spark, you name it. I’m learning great new things about my primary area, Collab, but I am also privy to hearing about all the great technology in other verticals as well, which is great. What’s more, is that being a part of this group has not only given me access to the great minds within Cisco, I have also met and listened to engineers from Cisco Partners all over the country, facing similar challenges that me and my clients face, and having this extra outlet to bounce questions off of has been invaluable.
I also love the fact that being a Cisco Champion does not mean I’ve sold my soul to Cisco. As a Champion, they want my voice to be the same in the social community that it was before. Cisco wants my objectivity, because that is what will help to make them better. I am not a Cisco representative, I am an IT consultant who just happens to recommend Cisco for certain things, and that is what Cisco wants me to continue to be – myself. That is refreshing.
So, for those of you interested, check out #CiscoChampion hash tags on Twitter, and here is a FAQ explaining a lot about Cisco Champions: https://communities.cisco.com/docs/DOC-54596 To hear it from someone from Cisco’s perspective, this is also a great blog: https://communities.cisco.com/community/technology/collaboration/business/blog/2015/11/05/why-cisco-champions-rock
Be on the lookout for more blogs this year, a lot of which will include the added insight I gain from being a Cisco Champion.