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Cisco & Ericsson Hone Their Partnership

Craig Matsumoto
6/27/2017
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LAS VEGAS -- Cisco Live -- As Ericsson scales back its enterprise ambitions, the company is also fine-tuning its partnership with Cisco, emphasizing product combinations and collaborative development.

The original partnership was possibly too open-ended, "putting the expectations all over the place," says Martin Zander, vice president of partnering for Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC).

"That's why we are more focused on solving technology use cases," having the companies' product teams collaborate in order to develop specific offerings together. The idea is to show technologies that are ready for deployment, Zander tells Light Reading.

According to Ericsson, that has resulted in the partnership expanding beyond the service provider market into enterprise and public sector and encompassing a broader range of technologies beyond routing and mobile, including security, WiFi and data center switching.

Ericsson separately confirmed to Light Reading today that it's scaling back its enterprise ambitions. (See Ericsson Denies Ditching the Enterprise Market.)

That means that for enterprise sales, including those from Ericsson's Internet of Things (IoT) group, the company will use service providers as potential sales channels. And when it comes to the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) partnership, Ericsson will lean more on Cisco's enterprise expertise.

Both companies are holding up mobile convergence as a prime example, because it blends a purely enterprise-focused product from Cisco (the Spark social media tool) with Ericsson's mobile networks for service providers.

"That will never be buckets of dollars, but it shows how the companies come together," Zander says. The demo, first shown at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona a few months ago, involves handing off a Spark session as a user roams between networks.

The Cisco-Ericsson partnership launched in 2015 with hopes of generating $1 billion in revenues per year per company by 2018. The partners are not revealing any revenue details currently (which suggests initial sales have fallen some way short of initial expectations), but Zander cites progress, claiming the partnership has led to 140 deals so far. (See Cisco & Ericsson Forge Killer Partnership.)

In a press session at Cisco Live, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins said his company still holds the Ericsson partnership in high esteem. But he said Cisco has let up on the throttle, giving Ericsson's new CEO, Börje Ekholm, some space to work through his company's transformation, which has included upper-management changes and additional staff cuts.

Robbins and Ekholm have discussed the original reasons for the partnership, and "he and I have agreed completely that all of those reasons still exist," Robbins said. "Over the next three to six months, we'll see how we end up accelerating it."

For more on Ericsson's ongoing overhaul, see:

— Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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