This sponsored guest is from Cisco Systems and was written by Mark Leary, a Cisco senior strategist and Chief Marketing Officer – Network Systems.
In the first two segments of this blog series, I focused on two of the three cornerstones to success in Borderless Networks – Workplace Transformation, and Technology Leadership. The former targeted the connected user and the latter took aim at the technology at work within the network itself.
For the final segment in this series, let’s turn our attention away from systems and technology and focus on Operational Excellence. How does one take all this advanced technology and effectively and efficiently respond to all the user and business demands that accompany this brave, new borderless world? After all, even the richest and “rightest” technology solution will fall short of expectations if it is not bolstered by 1) a proven set of best practices, 2) a strong support structure, and 3) an accurate and complete view of network costs and value.
Let’s examine each of these key operational components.
Best Practices and Borderless Networks
In today’s connected world, business systems and processes are built to take advantage of the network. And just as business systems and processes are unique to individual customers, so too are their networks. Special network service requirements can be dictated by customer business model… or industry pressures… or geographic location… and on and on.
At a business level, Cisco functions as a strategic partner. Industry experts advise customers on networking norms and trends. This advice can target a specific vertical industry such as health care or government. Or it can take aim at horizontal business functions such as remote collaboration or customer care. And Cisco backs up this advice with networking solutions that get you up and running quickly. Examples include, PCI for Retail, Medical-Grade Network 2.0 for health care, and Citizen Connect for governments.
At a technical level, Cisco provides IT and network staff with expert analysis, proven designs, certified training, and technology management best practices. Cisco’s Design Zone and the Cisco Security Center serve as two prime sources of in-depth technical guidance. Cisco makes sure you do networking right… from the start. Here, the breadth and depth of technical guidance offered to customers is unmatched in the industry.
In addition, Cisco also leads by example. Cisco IT has long been recognized as a leader in supporting the networked organization. Our internal expertise and experience is passed on to customers, enabling them to learn from our successes – and yes, our mistakes. Cisco is also recognized for its leadership in Green IT practices. Teleworking, remote collaboration, and resource virtualization are all of strong influence within Cisco. And for those customers looking to take advantage of developing cloud services, Cisco is an active provider (WebEx Collaboration Cloud) and partner with cloud service providers.
Cisco works hard to make sure you do networking right. As my father was always fond of saying, “Do it right. Do it once.”
Support Services and Borderless Networks
The strength of network support services, whether you’re looking at your own internal offerings or those of your technology providers, is a prime determinant of networking success. From design to deployment to operations to innovation, how well you support your business and your end users determines how successful you are in networking. This is not to say that technology or solutions or products don’t matter. They do. What this says is that support service excellence leads you to use the right solutions and then use them most effectively and efficiently.
Cisco offers a wide range of services options. This allows customers to best balance their support requirements with their support budget. Cisco’s enhanced Limited Lifetime Warranty (LLW) reduces maintenance costs, while still providing solid support. Above and beyond LLW, Cisco offers a wide range of services options — from basic (e.g., Smart Foundation) to premium (e.g., SMARTnet and Smart Care) to advanced (e.g., Security Assessment and UC Migration). Cisco will even co-manage your network through our Remote Management Service (RMS).
Customers are provided further flexibility through Cisco direct and on-line service capabilities. Both Cisco’s Technical Assistance Centers and web-based support are award-winning. No one supports networks like Cisco.
In order to optimize support for Borderless Networks, Cisco also offers a single service contract that covers the core technologies within the Borderless Network Architecture – routing, switching, security, and mobility. For example, Cisco’s Network Optimization Service encompasses all four of these core technologies, allowing Cisco to optimize your Borderless Network as one single business system.
Whatever your preference in service levels or service delivery methods, you can rest assured that, with Cisco, you’re receiving the best support available in the industry. No other vendor comes close to offering 5 global TACs and over 1,500 support engineers dedicated to network support. Additionally, as you look to staff your own IT organization, the more than one million Cisco-certified network technicians represents a huge source of talent from which to draw. Combined, Cisco’s resources and your resources ensure that your network and your organization overall is provided the best possible service and the best possible service levels.
Cost Savings and Borderless Networks
Operating expenses typically account for 75-80% of the networking budget. It makes sense then that operational efficiency drives the greatest network-related cost savings. That doesn’t mean that capital expenses should be ignored. You must save wherever you can. Beyond network-related CapEx and OpEx, you should also be mindful of costs that can be directly influenced by the network. For example, downtime results in lower productivity, customer dissatisfaction, and lost revenue. Underutilized resources result in over-spending on systems and support.
Networking devices that support multiple services (e.g., connectivity, security, voice, mobility…) eliminate the need for specialized devices and reduce network complexity. Service intelligence and modular designs also extend the service life of equipment, protecting your investment over time. The result: CapEx and OpEx savings.
Cisco further reduces OpEx through such key capabilities as zero-touch service activation and management automation. For example, Cisco’s ISR allows remote provisioning of integrated services. Cisco’s Embedded Event Manager (EEM) automates common tasks and problem handling.
Cisco’s industry-leading high availability features help avoid scheduled and unscheduled downtime. For example, Cisco’s ISSU allow software updates while the device remains in service. Cisco’s CleanAir technology assures the integrity of your wireless network environment. On the security side, industry-leading products and practices ensure your network is protected from forced downtime or slowdowns. These same security solutions also help you avoid productivity losses when users are remote or mobile. For example, Cisco Virtual Office (CVO) provides for full protection and productivity for teleworkers.
Resource savings extend beyond the network through key virtualization (e.g., VLANs, DMVPN) and sustainability (e.g., EnergyWise, CVO) services. Here, reductions in IT systems, energy use, and facilities requirements drive savings across both IT and the business.
Cisco EnergyWise also serves as a prime example of how the role of the network is expanding to drive value beyond traditional IT enablement. Today, operating as energy management software on Catalyst switches and Cisco Integrated Services Routers (ISR), Cisco EnergyWise along with its Orchestrator management console and PC client software, measures, monitors, and controls power demands of a variety of networked devices (e.g., IP phones, WLAN APs, PCs, and servers). Cisco’s complementary Network Building Mediator enables heightened control over the power demands and energy costs relating to the facilities infrastructure – e.g., lighting controls and HVAC systems. In the future, Cisco EnergyWise and Mediator integration combined with technology partnerships will further consolidate energy controls across the network, providing you with complete control over your organization’s energy consumption and costs.
Last, but certainly not least, Cisco provides for direct cost savings on equipment and maintenance through a number of key programs. Product bundles reduce the cost of purchasing commonly grouped networking systems and components. Cisco Capital Finance provides flexible leasing options when customers are looking to balance CapEx and OpEx and adapt their networks as new demands arise. Trade-in allowances reduce network refresh costs – and support sustainable electronic waste initiatives and directives. And, as mentioned above, Cisco’s enhanced Limited Lifetime Warranty further reduces the cost of the Cisco solution.
As you see, doing Borderless Networks right involves far more than picking the brightest technology, the best solution, or the cheapest product. It is as much technique as it is technology. Are you doing networking right? Are your suppliers and service providers doing right by you? Think you’ll do this once? Or will it take you multiple tries to get it right? Remember… Do it right. Do it once.
I hope you enjoyed this series on Borderless Networks. Let us know what you think. And as always… let us know what you — and your network — need.