- Before Roland Roth answers key questions about Cisco Smart Net Total Care, watch this short video introduction to the service
- Who are you, and what do you do?
My name is Roland Roth, and I am the business development manager for Smart Services EMEAR. I have been in Cisco for 6 years, and always in services sales and business development management roles, now focused around all things smart. I have lived in Dubai for the last 10 years. The best thing about Cisco is that I can be based in Dubai but work with clients all across EMEAR.
- So Smart Services, what are they?
Well, it all starts with collecting relevant customer data about devices, networks, operations or even applications and correlating this data with Cisco's knowhow. These might include contract database, manufacturing data, security vulnerabilities, and sharing it again with the customer in an easy-to-use manner. Essentially, smart services are a combination of software and Cisco's intellectual property applied to a specific network so customers can automate repetitive tasks such as inventory management, manage networks more proactively, or mitigate risk using shared best practices. We currently have SmartNet Total Care, Smart Call Home, Smart Analytics, and Remote Management Services.
- What is so smart about Smart Net Total Care?
Well, it gives you more insight into your own network. Smart Net Total Care(SNTC) builds upon Cisco SMARTnet® Service, which is our traditional support mechanism and includes 24x7 technical support, access to online technical resources, advanced hardware replacement (by return materials authorization, or RMA), and software updates. On top of this capability, SNTC provides inventory management (what devices do I have in my network, and when they will reach end of life?), making network support more efficient and contract management (what devices are supported by which contract, and when is the last day of support?) easier. Also, SNTC alerts the customer with important field notices and security vulnerabilities from the Cisco Product Security Incident Report Team (PSIRTs).
- Customers are telling us these days that they are under tight pressures to reduce IT budgets. How can SNTC help customers achieve this?
Customers tell me that most of their IT budgets is spent on operating/maintaining their network rather than on building/optimizing it. Smart Net Total Care provides a customized view of potential operation risks associated with vulnerabilities and lack of support coverage and an accurate status and change report of your inventory. We do all of this with a few mouse clicks. This makes it easier for network operations personnel to find relevant information faster and frees up time to make the important decisions. Customers benefit by mitigating risk, getting faster problem resolution, and ultimately reducing operating costs.
- Sounds like I have to install something into my network for you to do all of this. Are there security implications?
The Common Services Platform (CSP-C)is used for data collection and requires a customer-provided workstation. The CSP-C connects to the discovered devices and delivers network information to network administration and engineers through the portal. We have put a comprehensive, multilayer security architecture in place starting with password protection and system hardening, giving the customer complete control on which data is uploaded to Cisco. The data transfer to Cisco is encrypted, and customers can even choose to mask sensitive data such as the IP address or hostname before transmitting to Cisco. Proper monitoring and logging as well as regular backups complete this comprehensive security architecture. Many security-sensitive customers such as banks or service providers are using SNTC to their benefit.
- If you had to summarize in your own words what SNTC means to a customer, what would it be?
Two main areas:
- Improved operational efficiency and lower cost through better inventory management and
- less operational risk through proactive product alerts and contract management. This helps customers improve operational efficiency and network availability, compliance, and security.
- Can you give us an example of how a customer benefits from Smart Net Total Care?
I was recently on a trip to Moscow and spoke to an operations manager of a service provider. He told me about the way they recorded changes in their network. A dedicated person had to trace and report all changes affecting their chassis and cards (MACD-process),so this was pretty much a full-time job. When we offered SNTC, they jumped at the opportunity to redeploy this resource, saving time and money.
- Can you provide some ideas on what we can expect in the next version of Smart Net Total Care?
I foresee an increased integration of other smart services into a common portal, providing even more information beyond contract and inventory management. In other words, more smart information to our customers. But you'll have to wait and see.
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