Cisco Systems has launched OnPlus, a cloud-delivered service designed to give VARs and other channel pros a way to manage and assess their customers' networks. Cisco sees this as an expansion of its Partner Led Sales initiative, as it helps its channel partners grow their business with a new managed service offering.

The way it works is simple: The channel partner plugs the OnPlus Network Agent appliance directly into a switch or router at the customer's site. The appliance shoots the data up to Cisco's secure cloud, which is then viewable by the partner anywhere at any time.

OnPlus will detect and manage "anything with an IP from any supplier," according to Cisco's press release. For certain Cisco devices, OnPlus offers automation of common tasks, but otherwise it's universally compatible. Cisco is billing it as being a complementary managed service offering to remote monitoring and management and professional services automation. Customers get the peace of mind that a trusted adviser is keeping an eye on their network infrastructure, and the partner gets an additional source of recurring revenue.

Pricing for Cisco OnPlus is $250 per appliance, which includes a three-year subscription to the supporting cloud service. Of course, the MSP is free to charge whatever it wants for the monitoring service on top of the $250 payment. A separate appliance and subscription is required for each network managed, and there are Cisco OnPlus Apple iOS and Google Android apps already available in the respective app stores.

I'm intrigued -- not so much with OnPlus itself, but rather of what it says about Cisco's cloud partner strategy. Using the cloud to help VARs transition from a hardware focus to cloud services seems like a logical step, and as long as Cisco keeps playing to its strengths -- which is to say, networking and infrastructure -- it could have a hit on its hands.