It is the first time in 10 years or so that Cisco has changed the partner levels. It used to be:
Gold, Silver, Premier, Registered - with only the Gold, Silver and Premier actually requiring the registered partner to pass exams and meet certification requirements.
Well, they have introduced the new partner level as Select and it is below Premier and above the generic Registered (pretty much anyone can become a Registered Partner). So now there are five levels which go like:
Gold, Silver, Premier, Select and Registered. The new Select Partner level is specifically targeted at the partners going after the SMB market. It is also the only partner level where all the requirements can be fullfilled by one person (they can be both the Account Manager and Engineer) meaning there are going to be a whole lot of one man shops opening up soon.
I don't know what impact this is going to have on the Premier partner groups yet but my initial feeling is that I don't really like it. Gold and Silver are far enough removed that this isn't much of a factor for them but the Premier status has much more requirements and specializations but doesn't appear to be that much more value in Cisco's positioning as of now. Guess we will have to wait and see if they plan any changes in that.