Ex-Cisco Executive John Chambers Launches New Networking Business


With the networking firm Nile Secure, John Chambers, the former Executive Chairman and CEO at Cisco, is competing against his former employer. Nile uses an as-a-service business model to provide wired and wireless access for offices. The new business was started by John Chambers and Pankaj Patel. Mr. Patel, a former head of development at Cisco, will head Nile as CEO.

With about $50 billion in yearly revenue and many clients all over the world, John Chambers transformed Cisco during his two decades as CEO from a fledgling computer networking company.

After being away from selling switches and routers for about seven years, Mr. Chambers is now taking on his old company with a firm that comes out of stealth mode this week.

In the four years since he and CEO Pankaj Patel teamed together to launch the firm, Nile Secure has received $125 million, albeit its investment rounds have remained private until now. Chambers claimed to control 10 percent of Nile via his investment company, JC2 Ventures. March Capital, 8VC, and Iconiq Capital are other investors.

Nile promotes a straightforward user experience without requiring customers to deal with hardware upgrades. Nile will bill businesses according on how many people utilize its networking infrastructure each month, as opposed to selling large, pricey equipment, as is the Cisco approach.

Channel Ecosystem Program – Wired and Wireless

Nile has now unveiled its ecosystem program ‘Nile Connect’ to bring new growth and profit opportunities to partners. Nile Connect would base partner success on network simplicity, security, performance, and dramatically lower total cost of ownership (TCO) for both the partner and the customer. Nile Connect provides the channel with a wired and wireless service reimagined from the ground up to be delivered entirely as-a-Service (aaS).

At the time of its introduction, Nile Connect has already more than 50 solution providers signed up, including pioneers in the network ecosystems like Presidio and CBTS.

Nile Connect would offer a compelling collaboration structure that can be appealing to channel partners of all sizes and is built around:

  • Simplicity – a tier-less program structure with straightforward criteria and procedures, no time-consuming technical certifications, and a value-selling strategy built for a quick-ramp.
  • Profitability – ARR (annual recurring revenue) growth would be fueled by a larger market potential with high margins that is intended to provide partners with a net-cash-flow positive revenue stream.
  • Opportunity – a chance to take part in driving the disruption of the market for as-a-Solution offerings with an end-to-end service at a lower TCO and improved network performance.
  • Outcome Focused – with the goal of improving partner service delivery and cost model problems while delivering business and technical objectives and changing the technology customer experience.

“As network incumbents have attempted to adapt to increasingly evolving customer needs, partners have felt manufacturers’ profitability comes first, ultimately squeezing them financially and relationally,” said Lou Serlenga, Chief Revenue Officer at Nile. “Our approach is different. Nile Connect is designed to work with and through partners, not around them. Our partners’ success is at the forefront of everything we do with a commitment to a quick ramp and faster path to revenue. This true collaboration is a win-win-win – for partners, for Nile, and most importantly, for customers.”

‘A Simple Approach to IT Infrastructure’

Nile Connect would offer a straightforward, tier-less methodology that makes sure partners can quickly reach the highest levels of margin and don’t have to wait until much later to advance to higher tiers and discounts after completing requirements for a number of technical certifications and revenue ramps. Further ensuring that partners are not negatively impacted by complicated workflows that increase operational overheads and reduce profit is the simplification of program tools and processes, according to Nile Secure.

Through Nile Connect, partners can seamlessly integrate into the ecosystem and pioneer transformation for their customers without the complexity, competition, or confusion they are increasingly encountering today from firmly established incumbent manufacturers, added Nile Secure. Nile would also offer the opportunity to bundle more solutions and support customer outcomes.

“We are incredibly excited about the prospect of bringing such an innovative and differentiated offering to customers,” said Dave Hart, President and COO of channel partner Presidio, a global digital services and solutions provider that already signed up to Nile Connect. “Nile offers what many of our customers have been asking for – a simple approach to IT infrastructure that provides a scalable operating model combining innovative technology for deployment, monitoring and support with a predictable financial model that removes the operational and financial headaches of owning and supporting the network. At the same time, Nile’s leadership is equally committed to the success, profitability, and differentiation of its partners, which is always welcome news in this industry. We see Nile’s offer as a real win-win for Presidio and our customers.”

Built from the bottom up to be supplied as-a-service, Nile’s innovation and delivery approach would challenge conventional sales procedures. It offers consumption-based connections and services in collaboration with its partners while preserving the partner-customer relationship. In addition to doing away with variables and streamlining the process, Nile’s revenue-sharing strategy would concentrate on what counts most: client success.

All sizes of partners, from major U.S. solution providers to smaller regional and local partners, might benefit from the Nile Connect channel initiative. According to Nile Secure, its channel partner program can also be a great option for MSPs (managed service providers) because of how its network solution streamlines service delivery, lowers help desk calls, automates management to maintain guaranteed service performance levels, does away with the need for lifecycle management, and produces a financial model with a positive net cash flow.

“As the network model shifts to aaS, Nile is redefining what a partner-first approach should look like – one where partners have guaranteed growth and profitability, where value for the customer continues to evolve, and where the friction of ownership, configuration, and transactions is eliminated,” said Bob Burlas, Chief Product Officer at Pomeroy IT Solutions. “We are excited by the potential of this innovative offering and are committing our resources to bring a differentiated solution to our customers and prospects.”

“Eliminating complexity, especially as it relates to the solutions that we can offer our customers and prospective customers, has been a challenge for far too long,” said Joe Putnick, Chief Innovation Officer, CBTS, another channel partner that already signed up to Nile Connect. “Nile’s approach takes direct aim at this – it’s simple, it’s straightforward, and it puts the customer first while also making partner growth a priority.”