News Release

Cisco Introduces Industry's First Master Specialization to Address Emerging Customer Demand for Sophisticated Security Capabilities

Master Security Specialization Distinguishes Cisco Channel Partners for Highest Level of Proven Security Expertise
Sep 12, 2006

SAN JOSE, Calif., September 12, 2006 - Building on its commitment to enable its channel partners to align with changing security market dynamics and customer needs, Cisco Systems® today unveiled the Master Security Specialization. Master Specialization is a new brand that represents the highest level of partner specialization and depth of expertise. Cisco channel partners can achieve the Master Security Specialization for proven and sophisticated security expertise in the areas of technology solution integration and lifecycle services. It offers further differentiation, growth opportunities and economic incentives, including higher Value Incentive Program rebates as a reward for building sophisticated security capabilities and for being committed to customer success.

"Network security has become more complex due to the variations in attacks and proliferation of devices connected to the network, accelerating business loss and impact," said strategy analyst Ken Presti, of Presti Research and Consulting. "For customers requiring multiple advanced security technologies and a full range of lifecycle services, there is a clear demand for proven integration expertise. Cisco is responding to an emerging customer need by distinguishing channel partners who are true specialists in providing integrated security solutions against the broad range of vulnerabilities."

The Master Specialization was created to support the enhanced Channel Partner Program launched at the Cisco Partner Summit earlier this year. The award-winning Cisco Channel Partner Program continues to be value-based, with Cisco Certifications at the gold, silver and premier levels representing integrated technology skills breadth and Cisco Specializations representing technology skills depth. Cisco offers three specialization levels, allowing its channel partners to develop different business models while addressing the wide range of customer needs. At each specialization level (Express, Advanced and Master) a partner must demonstrate greater sales, technical and service capabilities.

"Network security continues to be a business-critical technology and top-ranked concern of business leaders. As more customers require increasingly sophisticated security solutions, effective architectural design and implementation is paramount for success," said Edison Peres, vice president and chief go-to-market officer for Worldwide Channels at Cisco. "We evolved our channel program so customers can identify the type of channel partner to best meet their needs. Adding a third tier to our specialization offering allows us to address the full spectrum of customer requirements and creates channel partner opportunities for growth and differentiation, two critical elements of partner profitability."

Driscoll Children's Hospital, located in South Texas, found that employing best practices and a network solution that exceeds federal standards was critical in protecting its resources as well as the privacy of its more than 100,000 annual patients. According to James Ballou, the hospital's chief security officer, finding a security specialist partner was key to successfully deploying a Cisco Self-Defending Network, which included Cisco Security MARS. "We partnered with Troubadour, a Cisco VPN/Security Specialized Partner, to help us develop a security road map that linked our business needs and healthcare industry dynamics to long and short-term security requirements. Because our mission-critical security needs deal with numerous applications, devices and end users, we chose a partner with a proven customer track record and capability to provide end-to-end services from initial vulnerability assessments to deployment to ongoing optimization."

Master Specialization Prerequisite

As a prerequisite to becoming a Master Security Specialized Partner, channel partners must first meet the Advanced Security Specialization requirements. The Advanced Security Specialization provides channel partners with the training and knowledge to successfully prepare, plan, design, implement, operate and optimize Cisco security solutions. To achieve the Advanced Security Technology Specialization, channel partners must fill the following job roles: an account manager, a pre-sales engineer, and a post-sales engineer.

Additional Master Requirements

In addition to the Advanced Security Specialization requirements, Cisco Master Security Specialized Partners must pass a stringent Cisco audit in the following three areas:

  • Technology Capabilities: Five customer references demonstrating a proven capability to integrate multiple sophisticated technology solutions in a single environment, including intrusion prevention, secure communications, security management, secure applications and network admission control; Cisco and industry-standard technical certification requirements, including those for Cisco Certified Internetwork Engineer in security, Project Management Certification (PMI or Prince 2), and one of the following ISACA or SANS certifications: CISM, GCIH or GSNA.
  • Services Capabilities: Services assessment across the Cisco Lifecycle Services phases (prepare, plan, design, implement, operate and optimize) with emphasis on vulnerability assessment, remote monitoring capability, and post-implementation support.
  • Selling Capabilities: Selling skills, sales personnel investments and a training program, along with demonstration capabilities for multiple sophisticated solutions in combination.

The Master Security Specialization is available immediately to qualified Cisco channel partners; more information can be found at: