If you have not called the Cisco Technical Assistance Centre (TAC) R&D engineers in the past 5-6 years or you have not requested for a security patch, you are probably not being smart with your Cisco SmartNet investment.
As an IT leader, you decide to purchase SmartNet to have yourself covered with future contingent issues and take advantage of premium Cisco’s hardware maintenance and software support. It’s like buying a luxury health insurance policy (I will talk more about this later on). Thinking ahead–with the potential downtimes and all the IT hardware maintenance challenges in mind, you want to make sure that you get the replacement hardware when you need it and the software upgrade as soon as its out.
Downtime is an unwelcome intrusion. It makes sense that you purchase SmartNet with the expectation that you get the technical expertise when you need a fast resolution to your issues and to keep you up-to-date. However, if these are the only reasons why you are purchasing SmartNet, you are missing a lot.
The luxury health insurance policy analogy comes from the fact that you are paying a premium price for an extensive coverage. Plus, you are paying for some unforeseen events that you wish do not happen. It can be reasonable for a person with chronic health conditions; however, in most cases, you are not really getting the value you are paying for. I am not saying that you have to forego the insurance; but, you have to take the time to review, weigh your options, and decide which coverage you need. It’s the same thing with SmartNet.
SmartNet includes a range of capabilities, which not all people are aware of or they do not really take the time to learn. Here are its four primary functional areas:
The Cisco Technical Assistance Centre (TAC) provides customers access to Cisco’s networking support engineers and research and development engineers. TAC categorises issues into 4 severity level – one hour response time for Severity 1 and 2; not later than one business day for Severity 3 and 4.
Cisco provides alerts regarding security recommendations, device updates, and software updates.
With SmartNet’s service coverage management capability, you can identify service contracts that will be expiring at various interval.
Cisco helps you maintain a current view of your Cisco installed base, including device and configuration details.
Purchasing SmartNet or any other OEM hardware maintenance coverage is actually just buying your peace-of-mind to ensure that you cover-your-own-butt for an unlikely future incident.
Since you are paying a good amount of money for SmartNet, make sure that you are taking a full advantage of the services and tools available for you. Look, if you have not maximised the SmartNet capabilities enumerated above; if you have not contacted the R&D engineers the past 3 to 5 years, and have not upgraded your software within the year, you are like throwing your money out the window.
For organisations that operate in a mission-critical, highly regulated IT environments, you will probably purchase a new hardware every life cycle because it is almost priced the same as SmartNet maintenance support over three to five years. SmartNet gets more expensive over time as your Cisco hardware gets older. The cost is almost priced ridiculously as buying a new equipment. However, reallocation of budgets and the cost of implementing new hardware and other associated project costs might compel you to explore other options. Also, why would you purchase SmartNet if the environment is stable? Unless your application provider supports latest patches and security updates, you most probably won’t ever apply it anyway.
You will find a good alternative to your OEM hardware maintenance support, if not better. If you are thinking about access to specific resources, there are either better alternatives or ways to work around.
“You will find a good alternative to your OEM hardware maintenance support, if not better.” [Click to tweet]
It’s a fact that the longer you have the hardware with you, the lesser hardware maintenance support you get from the OEMs. That’s the way it is. You also may not get the maintenance support for your end-of-life (EOL) products, forcing you to buy a new hardware. Same thing with your Cisco equipment. If you have them for a while, it might be time to review if your SmartNet coverage matches with the IT maintenance support you need. Perhaps, the cost now outweighs its benefits.
Whether your organisation decides to purchase a new Cisco equipment or you intend to keep your old gear, third party maintenance (TPM) vendors can provide you with the same levels of network support as Cisco Smartnet, or even better, but at a 50% less price difference as a minimum.
TPMs are ideal for mixed IT environment as they cover EOL and EOSL equipment. And as most TPMs are vendor agnostic, they can very well provide support to various OEM products.
The premium price reflects the value of Cisco SmartNet service. Sadly, some IT leaders are not fully aware of the SmartNet capabilities or, for some reason, do not take advantage of the majority of its features.
As a recommendation, choose the appropriate support from Cisco and seek for alternative paths to TAC support. The whole point is for you to purchase the right hardware and software maintenance support for your Cisco equipment at the right price point.
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