Cisco Offers VAR-Branded Entry-Level Remote Monitoring

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print

Updated: A new program from the networking company offers SMB partners a path to providing managed services.

LAS VEGAS—Cisco Systems is planning a low-end monitoring service that lets VARs offer customers an inexpensive, VAR-branded, managed-services type of offering that provides recurring revenue opportunities.

Cisco announced the Smart Care program April 4 during a keynote address at its annual Cisco Partner Summit here. The service is designed to monitor Cisco products on customer networks on a monthly, weekly or daily basis and provide reports and alerts on information such as changes in status, according to Karl Meulema, vice president of channels and markets for Cisco services.

"Services are the key to profitable growth," Meulema told the general session of partners. "As the network becomes the platform, we need to innovate [and] create new models for you to meet your customer needs."

The new service offering is aimed at customers with between 50 and 600 seats and limited IT resources. It provides partners with 24x7 access to Cisco's TAC (Technical Access Center) staffed by level 3 and level 4 engineers.

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Meulema said the program allows for simple pricing listed on a laminated card that fits in a wallet. The program allows VARs to set pricing and their own profit margins and provides them with a potential entree into the managed services space, although Cisco stopped short of calling the offering a managed service.

Pricing is equal for all partners and is set on a per seat basis. Price bands are set in small increments so that adding a few devices will not increase the price.

Smart Care allows partners to do scheduled scans of information. The service also enables remote fixes of any problems found.

"And now you know much more about your customer's network so that you are in a better position to advise your customer," Meulema said. For example, if a customer plans to make changes to its business, the partner is in a better position to offer advice on networking changes to support the business needs.

The service will be available for pilot partners over the summer and generally available to all partners in September 2007.

To participate, partners must have achieved Select Certification or higher, must offer an 8x5 support center and must complete live or online training. Then the partner must pass a Cisco Smart Care service online exam and register for the program.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com