At its partner meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cisco Systems Inc. also introduced an updated version of its free, PC-based network management program for SMB (small and midsized business) networks.
Cisco Network Assistant 2.0, first launched last October, adds the ability to perform IOS upgrades using drag-and-drop actions and support for more Cisco devices.
Network Assistant provides centralized management of as many as 20 different devices, including low-end Cisco Catalyst switches up to the Catalyst 4500, Pix firewalls, Integrated Services Routers and Aironet wireless access points.
"With the drag-and-drop IOS upgrade, the user can download the latest [IOS] software and drag and drop it onto the device," said Chris Spain, director of marketing in the desktop switching business unit at Cisco in San Jose, Calif.
The tool leverages Ciscos Smartports technology, which is designed to simplify deployment and maintenance of Ciscos SMB-class networking devices. The enhanced Cisco Network Assistant extends Smartports by automatically detecting connected SMB-class devices and suggesting Cisco-recommended settings.
"Devices are embedded with the optimum features you want when you connect to the next node. We turn on security, QOS [quality of service] and so on for you. In 2.0, if you connect Cisco devices together, it will then prompt you with a guide on setting up the next node," Spain said.
Cisco Network Assistant 2.0 is available now.
Meanwhile, the new Cisco SMB Support Assistant service offers access to Cisco technical experts, advanced hardware replacement, operating-system software maintenance and a Cisco SMB Support Assistant client and portal.
Offered through Cisco partners, the client and portal are intended to simplify Cisco device setup, configuration and troubleshooting, and to let users open service requests to the Cisco channel partner.
Designed for SMBs with 250 or fewer employees, it will be offered in eight languages.
The portal automates a number of common tasks and helps users manage their networks and support contracts more easily.
"The value to the partner is that it lets them more profitably enter the SMB market and more effectively manage contract renewals," said Ed Daly, director of commercial marketing at Cisco.
The service offering is available now in North America and Europe. It will be offered elsewhere around the globe later in the year.