IT Focus Area: infrastructure operations
June 5, 2017
Cisco Support Services: 4 Critical Things to Look for
Today’s IT environments are more complex than ever.
Compared with a decade ago, you now have 4x the users, 9x the devices, 4x the networks, and twice the resources. Do the math, and that is 288x the complexity of yesterday’s networks.
Source: Cisco, Simplify Your Network: Easy as 1+1=2
In addition, a growing number of connected devices are accessing your network – including cameras, printers, phones, energy meters, and industrial machine sensors. The Cisco Visual Networking Index states that 10 billion of these devices already connect to the world’s networks, and this number will double by next year.
Despite this increased complexity, your customers still expect a great experience and high levels of performance. If you can’t resolve problems quickly, they will impact your ability to serve customers and drive revenue.
The big problem with most support services
As IT complexity steadily increases, enterprises are turning to third parties to remove the burden of support. Using a support service should help you quickly solve problems and improve your efficiencies, so you can focus your limited resources on innovation.
But this often isn’t the case.
Many third-party support providers make it harder for you to manage your environment – not easier. If you have a problem, you can spend a long time trying to resolve it.
For example, you’ll need to call in for support and wait on hold for ages – only to speak with a Level 1 engineer who isn’t familiar with you or your environment.
Then, you could spend at least 20 minutes explaining who you are and answering basic questions while the engineer researches your account. Just when you think you’re done, the engineer will forward you to someone more qualified, and you’ll need to explain your problem all over again.
As a senior IT professional, you have a lot on your plate and can’t waste time telling multiple people about your issue. You expect the same responsive, high level of support that you give your own clients.
You also don’t want a problem to spiral out of control while you’re waiting for a resolution.
4 critical things to look for in Cisco PSS services
The value that you get from your Cisco investments is directly tied to the quality of your support.
Here are four questions to ask before you choose a Cisco Partner Support Service (PSS):
1. The right certifications and credentials
Not all third-party support vendors are qualified by Cisco to sell PSS.
Cisco currently has more than 24,000 registered partners. But less than 1 percent of these 24,000+ partners have invested in the infrastructure and rigorous certification process to offer a PSS solution in the U.S.
Look for the following qualifications:
- Gold Certified
- Master Security
- Master Collaboration
- Master Cloud Builder
- Advanced Data Center Architecture Specialization
- Advanced Security Architecture Specialization
- Advanced Enterprise Networks Architecture Specialization
- Advanced Collaboration Architecture Specialization
- Technical Services Delivery Validation
2. Allows you to quickly and easily scale
What does your PSS offer?
Many providers offer basic support packages, while some offer a range of services that will carry you into the future. For example, some PSS providers will regularly review your incidents to identify reoccurring problems. They may also offer network optimization, greater visibility into your environment, and Cisco asset management.
In today’s rapidly changing IT landscape, it’s hard to predict what you will need a few years down the road. You should understand the differences between packages and look for a partner that offers enhanced services, in case you want to add them later.
3. Offers proactive support
Most support services are reactive. You call in when you have a problem and multiple technicians will try to solve it.
But you shouldn’t only hear from your PSS when you have a problem. They should manage your contracts, collect data about your environment, and proactively report back to you.
A provider who offers proactive support can help you identify issues before they impact your business and customers. According to a Forrester report, 35 percent of companies are made aware of an issue with availability or performance by an end-user affected rather than alerted by the company’s monitoring systems.
Look for a provider with senior-level analysts who will examine your Cisco Smart Collector data. They should provide you with analytics that show you actionable steps you can take to improve your environment, gain efficiencies, and reduce your costs.
When you have a 360-degree feedback loop about your IT environment, you will be better prepared to deliver the high-speed, low latency, and continuous uptime experience that your end users expect.
4. A partner who is familiar with your IT environment
You’ve likely experienced the frustration of troubleshooting with support technicians who aren’t familiar with you or your problem. It’s annoying to tell your story multiple times to different technicians. Wasting time on support calls drains your IT staffs’ productivity while potentially costing you business if the issue impacts your customer experience.
If you routinely call for support and the people answering the phones don’t know who you are and how your business works, then your issue will likely require multiple calls to resolve.
Look for a provider who dedicates specific Level 2 or 3 engineers to your account. That way, you’ll speak with someone who is familiar with your environment, won’t need to ask you basic questions, and will be more likely to resolve your problem on the first call.
You can improve your support experience by working with the same PSS provider who built your Cisco solution and is already familiar with your IT environment.
Over the next few years, enterprise IT is going to become even more complex with wider adoption of technologies such as public cloud and Internet-of-Things (IoT).
If you rely on Cisco products, you’ll want a PSS who can support you as your IT environment grows and you serve more customers.