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Explore Cisco TAC

October 30, 2014 at 10:11 am PST
Jimmy Ray never reads directions

Jimmy Ray never reads directions

Just another Call Center?

Initially, I was not too excited about doing a show on TAC, Cisco’s Technical Assistance Center.  This topic has been requested in various forms throughout the years and for whatever reason, we just never took the time to do it right.  Until now. 

 - Watch the entire Show Right Now-

Cool thing about TAC as a subject for us? It is TECH Reality.  This really can’t be a marketing show as they deal with deployments.  As much as I could now make an argument for why they should be a part of any pre-sale process -- I get it. They truly live at that golden moment…when someone has a problem and they are either going to become a customer for life…or be lost forever.  

‘Service after the sale’ is something we all enjoy complaining about.  While often the last thing we consider when making a purchase…it’s the FIRST thing we call out when it fails us.

Sure TAC does a great job, they have also developed some great models for managing high volume, high complexity change…a worthy goal for any  customer service environment.   I honestly did not realize just how much they do until we really dug into our research for this.

- Watch the entire Show Right Now-

Read more in our extended shownotes.

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SNMP: Spike in Brute-force Attempts Recently Observed

Simple Network Monitoring Protocol (SNMP) has been widely deployed as an important network management tool for decades, is a key component of scalable network device management, and is configurable in nearly all network infrastructure devices sold today. As with any management protocol, if not configured securely, it can be leveraged as an opening for attackers to gain access to the network and begin reconnaissance of network infrastructure. In the worst case, if read-write community strings are weak or not properly protected, attackers could directly manipulate device configurations.

Cisco has recently seen a spike in brute-force attempts to access networking devices configured for SNMP using the standard ports (UDP ports 161 and 162). Attacks we’ve observed have been going after well known SNMP community strings and are focused on network edge devices. We have been working with our Technical Assistance Center (TAC) to assist customers in mitigating any problems caused by the brute-force attempts.

While there’s nothing new about brute-force attacks against network devices, in light of these recent findings, customers may want to revisit their SNMP configurations and ensure they follow security best practices, including using strong passwords and community strings and using ACLs to restrict access to trusted network management endpoints.

Cisco has published a number of best practices documents for securing the management plane, including SNMP configuration:

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The 2014 Automation Conference – IoE and Beer

The 2014 Automation Conference (TAC) was held March 20-21, 2014 in sunny Chicago (Yes, sunny Chicago!! I made sure to pack some California sunshine for the Windy City) attracted a diverse group of automation and manufacturing thought leaders and subject matter experts from leading machine builders, system integrators, manufacturing end users, standards bodies and educational institutions. The focus and objective of the conference was to have peer to peer discussions and dialogue around the technologies and next generation automation strategies that are enabling and driving the Internet of Everything (IoE).

“This conference is designed not only to make you think about the application of automation, but also to help you take action” -- David Greenfield, Automation World, editor in chief and TAC event director

The conference achieved this goal and more.  The framework of the sessions encouraged audience collaboration and dialogue around the challenges and practical steps and strategies being designed and deployed to achieve an integrated and scalable IoE architecture that drives value across the entire manufacturing value chain, as depicted in the video below:

I can “wax poetic” around all the great individual sessions held at the conference around Big Data, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), mobility, virtualization, cloud computing, cyber-physical security, network switching, CPwE (Converged Plantwide Ethernet), safety systems, workforce retention and optimization, but I think its more fun and interesting to summarize the highlights of the conference through the  context of a use case that was shared at the conference.

What better way to meet that objective than to leverage a manufacturing use case around beer!!!!

Automating Brewing Operations from Two Different Perspectives

I attended this session where Highland Brewing, Sierra Nevada and Vicinity Manufacturing gave an interesting perspective around the challenges and strategies in deploying their next generation manufacturing operation.

Highland Brewing is a regional brewer of craft beers based in the Southeast and Sierra Nevada is a larger brewer with more of national brand.  The interesting contrast between the two is that Highland Brewing is designing more automation into their operational facility and Sierra Nevada is scaling their automation and IoE strategies across all their facilities.   Both perspectives and approaches have the same objective.  How do I effectively integrate all the various technologies into an intelligent, flexible and scalable system/architecture to meet the following business outcomes:

  1. Increase Customer Loyalty
  2. Supply Chain Optimization
  3. Operational Excellence
  4. Energy Sustainability
  5. Disruptive Innovation

To paraphase Kevin Wheeler, Director of Operations, Highland Brewing Co,“Our core competency is crafting great beer. We have an opportunity to drive efficiency into our operation by an integrating IoT/IoE platform … the challenge is figuring out the best approach.”

Like Highland Brewing, manufacturers must begin to transform existing business processes and fundamentally rethink how they create, operate, and service smart, connected products in the IoE. For those that get it right, the future represents a huge opportunity to create product and service advantages.

Are you having challenges putting together the “IoE technology puzzle?”  Is security the main barrier to IoE adoption?

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The “We’re Listening” Blog Series: Improving the TAC Experience Through Intelligent Case Routing

 In this month’s installment of the “We’re Listening” blog series, Steve Young discusses customer feedback to the Technical Assistance Center (TAC), and what his team is doing to address your main concerns with TAC support. Steve is Director of the TAC’s Service Delivery Transformation efforts. 

Steve Young, Director, TAC Service Delivery Transformation 

 

 

 

 

By Guest Contributor Steve Young

You’ve shared a lot about your experience with the Technical Assistance Center (TAC) – the many positive experiences as well as areas for improvement. We continuously review these multiple sources of customer listening data to ensure we are addressing your biggest concerns with your support experience. 

One of your main concerns is not getting to the right expert right away.  When you have an issue, you don’t want to be bounced around the TAC. Read More »

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Meet Jaime Valencia: Newest Member of the Cisco Support Community Hall of Fame

May 10, 2012 at 4:42 pm PST

Jaime’s daily contributions to the Cisco Support Community over the past 6 years have not only helped establish him as a Unified Communications thought leader but also reduce extraneous company costs.

The Cisco Support Community is an online technical support community on which company employees can interact with and respond to questions from Cisco customers and IT professionals. Oftentimes, SME contributors like Jaime who resolve customers’ technical issues by responding to questions on the community have greatly helped avoid opening unnecessary Technical Assistance Center (TAC) cases, ultimately diminishing company costs.

The Cisco Support Community Hall of Fame

The Cisco Support Community Hall of Fame is an exclusive group which highlights top individuals who have showcased long-term contributions to this community. Jaime is the most recent addition to this elite group which consists of a total of 8 members. His high quality contributions over the past 6+ years in the Collaboration, Voice and Video communities are said to have made a significantly positive impact to the overall online community.

Jaime’s Social Activities

Jaime is a Network Consulting Engineer specializing in the Cisco Unified Communications (UC) portfolio of solutions on the Planning, Design and Implementation (PDI) team. Although Jaime is involved with VXi technologies with PDI from the UC perspective, he studies VMWare View and Citrix ICA to get a better understanding of the technology of the whole.  Jaime claims that self-studying also helps him participate on the Cisco Support Community in a more effective manner.

Every day, Jaime volunteers his free time to respond to customers, partners and prospective clients on the Cisco Support Community. Through diverse channels including discussion forums, webcasts, blogs, Ask the Expert events, documents and more, Jaime actively shares his knowledge and expertise with others on this site.

What motivates Jaime to be such an active participant on this online social platform? Read More »

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