Cisco has announced a new initiative designed to help its channel partners expand their efforts to pursue cloud businesses. The company’s Cloud Partner Program, which will launch in the fourth quarter of 2011, is aimed at cloud infrastructure builders, cloud service providers and resellers of cloud services.

The cloud builder portion of the program is designed for Cisco partners who design and implement cloud-ready infrastructures or fully provisioned private or public clouds. Cloud provider partners, meanwhile, are companies offering their own brand of public cloud services to the market that are powered by Cisco technology. Cloud Services Reseller is for Cisco partners that “white-label” or resell other providers’ services (provided they are also Cisco-powered).

At the recent Cisco Partner Summit in New Orleans, as this story on TalkingCloud.com points out, Cisco executives pointed out that the company continues itself a facilitator of the cloud ecosystem, not a competitor to cloud providers.

“It is not Cisco’s intent to become a broad-based cloud services provider,” said \\[Cisco Channel Chief Edison\\] Peres. “It’s our intent to enable you and not compete with you.”

For builders and providers that qualify for the partner program, the program offers assistance in branding, financing, market development funding and access to Cisco’s network of channel partners for distribution—all important resources and connections to have in the hotly competitive cloud services space. The designation of providers as part of partner programs like this one also should help end users of cloud services better distinguish the strongest players.