Cisco’s SMB focus is superficial

I certainly hope this isn’t the case.  If it turns out to be wrong I’ll post an apology.  However, in a recent post on CiscoBlog there’s a troubling comment.  The post itself shows how silly Cisco can be about certain things.  It’s essentially talking about Cisco taking your picture when you take an exam.  Ok, no big deal.  Like DRM it only affects the honest people, but our pictures are already taken in so many other contexts, who cares if there’s another one.

No, the really troubling thing is from one of the comments.  Cisco might now be forcing a 180 day waiting period before retaking the same (number based) test if you fail it.  That’s 6 months for the mathematically challenged.  I can only hope those are calendar days.

This can’t possibly be true.  If it is, it would have dire consequences.  Quite often careers hinge on the ability to get certified.  Having to wait 6 months to try again, at the risk of failing again, is frightening.  Talk about a chilling affect.

So, how does this hurt small businesses?  SMB’s are largely served by small integrators.  We’re talking about the Premier Partners, not Silver and Gold.  Each level has certification requirements and recently Cisco tightened up the ability to have people cover multiple tracks.  So, if you only want to be Premier it’s not as big a deal.  You only need 2 or 3 separate individuals.  I can’t remember which.  However, if you want to also be Unified Communications certified, or Advanced Wireless you then need other individuals to support those roles.  Officially it’s a 2×2 rule.  Any one person can support 2 roles in any 2 specializations.  Premier, or “Foundation” is considering a specialization.  You can imagine in a small company you start to run out of people to fill roles.

Now imagine that the partner re-cert deadline is approaching.  Engineers start going to take tests and fail them the first time out.  Wait 6 months?  The partner cert expires because you don’t have certified bodies?  You have to start the process all over again once everyone passes certifications?

Cisco keeps talking about how they’ve not addressed the SMB space effectively and how they want to change that.  Their actions tell a different story.  What I can’t figure out is if they think the SMB’s will just be happy paying large integrator prices after they force all of the SMB integrators out of the market.  And do they really think they can get away with that when their competitors aren’t treating SMB integrators the same way?

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