Cisco Boosts Advanced Services

By Matthew Hicks  |  Posted 2002-04-15

Cisco Systems Inc. last week rolled out a revamped Advanced Services program aimed at providing customers with more flexibility in choosing support options and expanding the number of Cisco applications included.

Ciscos move comes as enterprises and service providers are under increasing pressure to do more with less in their teams of networking engineers and administrators.

"Staffing is not increasing currently, and although the network is growing, our bank wants more applications and more functionality from the network," said a Bank of America N.A. network operations manager, who asked not to be named.

The 1,500-person Advanced Services group, consisting mainly of engineers, supports 11 Cisco applications from IP telephony and voice over DSL (digital subscriber line) to content networking and IP-based contact centers. New support for wireless LAN, enhanced IP and security/VPN (virtual private network) applications is included. Other applications, such as metro Ethernet, are expected in the next six months, said officials at Cisco, in San Jose, Calif.

Technology Application Support, one of three main offerings in the new Advanced Services program, includes consulting in the design, configuration and security of applications, with actual deployment typically being done through systems integrator partners.

The Focused Technical Support offering provides customers with a team of engineers dedicated to supporting a customers network operations, trouble-shooting problems and providing trend analysis. The third package, Network Optimization Support, offers advice on planning, configuration and software migration to improve network performance.

The three offerings can be bundled together, or customers can choose specific features of the offerings, a shift from previous Advanced Services offerings, which locked some customers into more features than they needed.

Since shifting to Cisco routers and switches in 1997, Bank of America, of Charlotte, N.C., has seen an increased need for using Cisco support services, the network manager said. Especially in the past year, with the bank limiting the hiring of network administrators and engineers, the bank uses expertise from Cisco engineers to help not only in operation support but also in such projects as testing voice over IP.

Pricing for Advanced Services varies based on the features chosen, the volume of support chosen and the size of the network and will be primarily subscription-based. While customers have more options, Cisco officials expect their customers ultimately will spend more on the new Advanced Services as they move to deploy new applications.

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