By Yvonne Tevis. In April 2018, the University of California and Cisco signed a three-year strategic partnership agreement, formally recognizing an informal relationship of twenty-years’ standing, and committing to innovative programs for mutual benefit.
The partnership is an offshoot of the IT infrastructure agreements that UC signed last year with equipment manufacturers and resellers. Those agreements make it easy for UC organizations to choose among product options and buy quickly at low cost. UC will save millions of dollars as it shifts spend from one-off purchases and location-specific deals to the systemwide contracts.
UC and Cisco realized they could create a partnership that goes beyond discounted pricing and encourages innovation. “Cisco is so much broader than a network infrastructure company. I’ve watched them build layers of capabilities, products, and services on top of that infrastructure, and we felt this was the moment to allow our locations the opportunity to take advantage of all those capabilities,” said UC System CIO Tom Andriola.
All UC campuses, medical centers, the Office of the President, Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Hastings College of the Law are included in the partnership. Executives from both organizations conduct regular meetings to further the business relationship and identify promotional opportunities, such as case studies or a recent informational webinar for the UC audience about Cisco products.
Cisco Operations Director Matt Lough said, “The Cisco-UC strategic relationship agreement has enabled our teams to align Cisco experts with UC initiatives in the data center and multicloud as well as collaboration and cybersecurity. Now, we are delivering increasing value to UC beyond Cisco’s traditional support of the network infrastructure.”
Highlights of the agreement are listed below.
The agreement provides for discounted pricing on hardware and maintenance services through authorized resellers. UC personnel interested in accessing discounted pricing for their organizations should contact their local procurement office.
Each year, one person from each UC location will be able to attend – for free – twenty hours of training required to become a Cisco Certified Internet Engineer (CCIE). Normally, this specialized training would cost an organization around $10,000. It is a fantastic professional development opportunity for UC network engineers, and UC is sending its first cohort to the CCIE training this February and March in both Irvine and San Francisco.
Beta testing programs for new products
As Cisco develops new products, it will offer them to UC for beta testing in the UC production environments. UC organizations that want to participate get the products at no cost, and Cisco gets valuable input on product development and usability in the higher ed sphere.
Cybersecurity research and innovation
UC and Cisco want to create new avenues for partnering on cybersecurity. For example, they are looking into developing a program for UC students based on Cisco’s security Ninja curriculum, as well as forming a research alliance for collaborating on promising, new cybersecurity technologies.
Cisco and UC will sponsor work sessions at each location with business and IT leaders and staff to brainstorm about challenges, trends, and emerging solutions. The goal is to ensure that more voices and ideas are heard. Cisco has some excellent case studies in innovative uses of technology, including but not exclusive to, their technology. Examples are “smart campuses” promoting advances in energy efficiency or campus safety, and the Internet of Things in health care.
UC and Cisco also are discussing a one-year internship for a UC undergraduate and/or graduate student at its Silicon Valley location.
Specific activities will become more defined as the partnership evolves. The door is open to innovation.
Yvonne Tevis is editor of the UC IT Blog and chief of staff, Information Technology Services, at the UC Office of the President.