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The We’re Listening Blog Series: 3 Way RMA Process Speeds Up Service Contract Updates

Over the past few months, the We’re Listening blog has brought you ongoing news about updates to our RMA processes, and the improvements keep on coming. I’ve asked Jim Fuller, Senior Director of Services Entitlement, to return to the blog to share details on the new 3-Way RMA process.  The new process represents a significant improvement for many of our customers and partners, and in the spirit of the We’re Listening blog, was undertaken by Jim’s team in direct response to customer and partner feedback. Share your thoughts on other ways we can simplify your interactions with Cisco, and your suggestions may end up as new capabilities featured on the blog!

jafuller By Guest Contributor Jim Fuller

Our partners provide constant feedback to tell us how we can improve their experience doing business with Cisco. One of our partners’ number one requests is to help them create an RMA via a single step, versus opening a support case with Cisco to remedy contract updates as a result of RMA transactions.

We heard your feedback, and if you’re a partner who “self-spares” (spares inventory from your depot) or a customer who contracts with a partner who self-spares, your Return Material Authorization (RMA) process just became easier. We’ve introduced Partners 3-Way RMA/Self-Sparing.

With this new process, service contracts are automatically updated with the associated serial number swaps when processing 3-Way RMAs.  Available now, the new capabilities provide the following benefits:

1. Delivery of an automated RMA process that supports 3-Way RMA transactions at the time of RMA creation

2. Two serial numbers can now be entered at the time of RMA creation for those partners that self-spare, via the Service Order RMA Tool (SORT):

  • The serial number of the claimed defective part from customer network
  • The serial number of the spare part used by the partner to replace the claimed defective part on the customer’s network

3. Ability to minimize or even eliminate partner overhead to monitor and coordinate contract swaps

Previously, the Partner Self-Sparing model was not systematically supported making equipment difficult to track. Without a standardized process, contract and installed base updates had to be performed manually via a support case process. Now, systematic contract updates will occur at the time of RMA shipment reflecting the spare part (replacing the claimed defective part) on contract, making it easier to do business with Cisco and drastically reducing support cases.

To date, more than 175 partners globally have been enabled, with an RMA success rate of 95%. In FY14, we’re focused on reducing contract cycles and the number of customer escalations even further.

Please contact your Cisco Partner Support Development Manager (PSDM) for further information about enabling these new capabilities in support of your 3-Way RMA/Self-Sparing needs.

Regards,
Jim Fuller

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Cisco ISE in the lab.

November 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm PST

My company is in the very early stages of an MDM BYOD project.  As part of that we are looking at the Cisco Identity Service Engine (ISE) as a central piece.  I am about half way through my testing and I thought that I would pass on some of what I have learned so far.  I am far from being an ISE expert and I don’t mention profiling or the advanced features in this post. I have tried them but don’t feel knowledgeable enough to go into these details.

ISE

ISE is an excellent NAC system but it does much more than that.  One of the advantages of trying to configure a new piece of technology yourself is that you learn much more and also other ways to increase the ROI.  The main reason we are interested in ISE is as the enforcement point on our wireless network.  When a device tries to connect to our BYOD network we want ISE to query the MDM server to verify if the device is registered and if not to redirect the device to the MDM provisioning portal.  If the device is registered with MDM ISE will then query AD and verify the user credentials.  This is a core function of ISE and went fairly well. Read More »

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Can the IoE Revolutionize Alternative Medicine?

November 1, 2013 at 11:35 am PST

The other week I found myself chatting with a fellow healthcare (and Cisco) enthusiast on Twitter about alternative medicine and I experienced an Aha! moment – alternative medicine may soon have an entirely new face if it’s driven by consumer adoption of advanced (and in many cases, currently available) technologies.

@petra1400

Let me explain. I recently wrote a post about the true price of affordable healthcare, which focused on the innovative technologies that will help make healthcare more efficient overall by incorporating dynamic monitoring techniques as a means of prophylactic care. When I wrote that post, I didn’t realize I was actually describing a new age of alternative medicine!

When most of us think of alternative medicine (myself included), we initially associate it with traditional homeopathic remedies and elements from Eastern medicine like acupuncture and herbal therapies. Read More »

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Summary: TelePresence for SMBs: It isn’t just for the big guys anymore

If you’re in an SMB company you might think of telepresence as a tool built for enterprise, something that would be nice to have for your small business but just out of reach. You’d be wrong.

Video conferencing solutions like Telepresence and even web-based technologies like WebEx are more affordable than ever, making them a viable option for SMBs.

Read my full article for a closer look!

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Los Angeles Unified School District – Hack the iPads!

October 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm PST

It didn’t take long, but soon after the Los Angeles Unified School District began their rollout of some 650,000 iPads to their students, they ran into some technical issues. Students in at least one of LAUSD’s high schools quickly discovered a way to bypass the security on the devices. Still in Phase 1 of the program, only 15,000 of the devices have been given to students, but already the District has suspended home use of the iPads due to the security issues. According to reports, LAUSD had been using software that “lets school district officials know where the iPads are, and what the students are doing with them at all times. This software also lets the district block certain sites, such as social media favorites like Facebook.” There are now questions circulating around whether the LAUSD staff was well prepared for these devices and their implementation, and what is going to be done moving forward to continue the rollout and secure the iPads.

student using mobile device

In my previous article I wrote about how educational staff need to be prepared to properly utilize iPads in their classroom. IT staff responsible for managing these iPads should also receive the proper training and preparation. What’s interesting to note here is that, at least in my experience, Apple’s stance on iPads in education is generally fairly hands-off. They recommend managing or locking down the iPads as little as possible. The idea here is that these are best served as single user devices and the best experience for the student is full ownership and manageability of the iPad out of the box. iPads aren’t meant to be used like a rolling cart of laptops going from room to room. They don’t support user profiles and managing or locking down the iPads introduces more complexity than is needed.

You want to protect the investment in these devices from theft, and prevent students from accessing inappropriate content, but if you are planning on allowing the students to take these devices home, you can only go so far. As evidenced from the LAUSD issue, students quickly discovered the iPads were so locked down they couldn’t use them at home, so they found a way to delete the configuration profiles which essentially removed any of the locks or restrictions on the iPad. Some students even went so far as to offer ‘unlocking’ service for $2. Quite the entrepreneurial spirit!

Now, it’s a daunting task for any IT department of any size to introduce over half a million new devices under your umbrella of responsibility. Add to this, that depending on the MDM solution chosen, each of these iPads have to be unboxed and configured before being handed to a student. Now, when something goes wrong they have to be collected, and reconfigured. It stands to reason that Phase 1 will remain a trial phase until some of these issues are worked out. Read More »

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