For years, Cisco (News - Alert) has been the dominate player in IT networking equipment, providing the solutions companies need to ensure optimal performance and business continuity. While claiming 72 percent of the market is a viable argument for its value to the enterprise, not all companies will find Cisco to be the optimal fit. In such situations, alternative IT service providers can provide access to Cisco’s SMARTnet support service at a fraction of the cost.
A recent whitepaper from XS International explored the viability of OEM SMARTnet support combined with alternative SMARTnet support, at a cost of up to 50 percent less than Cisco’s offering. At the same time, such a solution also provides better flexibility in terms of contracts, can often include customized payment solutions, service and support for End of Life (EOL) equipment and allow for the removal or addition of parts throughout the year.
Plus, Cisco updates and software upgrades are available to customers even if they did not purchase Cisco SMARTnet. As a result of a 2010 out-of-court settlement with Multiven, alternative service providers can provide the direct transfer of software and updates from Cisco. For the end-customers, this provides quicker access to certified technicians, a wider range of IT equipment and even lower overhead to ensure complete support.
Within a single contract, alternative service providers can provide complete OEM SMARTnet support with flexibility in the contract, coverage for all Cisco data, security, voice and unified communications, SAN software and hardware and support for all Cisco products. A GSA (News - Alert) schedule is also available for federal agencies seeking to secure an alternative to SMARTnet maintenance.
It’s not enough for an alternative service provider to simply suggest it can provide the coverage and support for Cisco solutions without demonstrating a guarantee of quality. For some organizations, the more personal approach possible through an alternative provider is one of the perks. Still, these providers must be able to demonstrate they are an authorized Cisco partner; that they can provide Tier 1 to Tier 3 technical assistance; the potential for Tier 4 escalation to OEM when necessary; trained and certified Cisco engineers to support platforms; live technicians available for phone support; dispatch within an acceptable response time; and the power to facilitate all updates, enhancements and upgrades.
At the same time, these alternative service providers must be able to demonstrate the ability to deliver quality service at low operational costs. Supported technicians should be trained to handle more software and hardware than the average OEM technician to speed issue identification and problem resolution. Plus, the lack of large bureaucracies and corporate structures should mean the alternative service provider can act quickly when needed.
The smaller organization seeking the performance and capabilities of Cisco SMARTnet has options when it comes to deployment, updates and support. Thanks to the alternative service provider with Cisco certification, such as XS International, costs are dramatically reduced without sacrificing the performance necessary for success.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey