The right partnerships make all the difference
IT’s rapid evolution means no single organisation can offer everything. This is why Sizwe and Cisco’s partnership is so critical in offering clients true peace of mind.
Modern IT organisations need to be agile and innovative if they are to evolve at the same pace as fast-moving technology developments. To achieve this, they need to recognise that they cannot be all things to all clients, which is why skilled partners are more imperative than ever.
Sizwe Africa IT Group understands this principle better than most, having driven its own evolution from just ‘box-dropping’ when it launched around two decades ago to the services and solutions provider it is today. In keeping with this knowledge, the company allied itself with Cisco, a major player in the networking space.
According to Itumeleng Mochocho, Executive: Unified Network Solutions (UNS) at Sizwe Africa IT Group, with more than 10 years of the partnership, there have been numerous major highlights, and recently, another highlight is the Gold Partnership Re-certification.
“As Sizwe is an organisation heavily focused on the public sector, Cisco has been vital in assisting us to provide support and maintenance to thousands of network devices and professional services for two of South Africa's essential service providers nationally. Our partnership has also played a key role in providing connectivity to over 300 government schools in the Western Cape."
The long-term partnership with Cisco has benefited Sizwe enormously, he adds, pointing to the fact that today, the company’s UNS business unit boasts one of the highest number of qualified and certified Cisco engineers within the industry and, as a company, a total of six different ISO certifications under their belt.
“These six ISO certifications are a key differentiator for us, as it means we are not only considered a Cisco Gold Partner, but one with the highest number of ISO certifications. Partnerships like these are essential today, as in an increasingly complex IT world, there is strength in both diversity and numbers. After all, as technology advances, no single organisation can do it all alone, you can only truly thrive with strong partners.
“For us, this partnership means we also have access to Cisco’s network of global engineers, who can advise us if and when necessary. This is vital, as being able to call on Cisco’s global networking knowledge can sometimes mean the difference between attaining and bridging a service level agreement (SLA). The fact that we meet our SLAs well over 99% of the time is testament to the value of this partnership.”
Mochocho explains that to be a Cisco Gold Partner, a company needs a minimum of 12 Cisco-certified full-time employees – across different levels of specialisation, from associate to expert. Sizwe, he adds, has six Cisco Certified Internetwork Experts, as well as a plethora of other certifications within the Cisco ecosystem.
“From a client perspective, it’s important to have a service provider that has the kind of skills and knowledge base to be able to advise them before, during and after a project. Client environments tend to be complex, and the more certifications you have around various aspects of that environment, the more peace of mind it offers them,” he says.
“Of course, becoming – and remaining – a Gold Partner is no easy task. Annually, there is application for re-certification and partners are audited every three years in order to renew our Gold Partnership certification. This involves them being reassured that we still have all the relevant skills and certifications required to achieve this high standard. Robust processes are in place to ensure we meet their requirements, and this robustness again adds to clients’ peace of mind.”
Mochocho indicates that for Sizwe, the most important thing for both them and its end-users or clients is innovation. When you collaborate, he suggests, you are able to recommend alternative ways to solve challenges – this is an advantage of such a partnership.
“It is also worth mentioning that Cisco’s research and development (R&D) unit is remarkable. In fact, we have an on-premises Cisco lab, meaning our clients have access to the facilities to conduct their own research or test new specific solutions. In our experience, the lab has allowed our clients to be more innovative and they are able to deploy POCs (such as application-centric infrastructure implementation) without major cost concerns.
“In the end, this partnership offers clients everything they could want from a service provider: Sizwe is a majority black-owned, B-BBEE level one contributor, with close access to, and significant skills and certifications from, one of the largest networking businesses globally. As a Gold Partner, we also receive significant discounts from Cisco that we are able to pass down the value chain, and necessary skills transfer and advice to our SMME partners – it truly is a win-win situation for all concerned,” concludes Mochocho.