Using Professional Services to help you with Data Center Challenges – part 2

August 30, 2010 - 1 Comment

In my previous blog, I briefly introduced Cisco Services’s unique LifeCycle Services Methodology ( and talked about how Cisco’s Advanced Services Data Center Practice follows this unique methodology and practices to support the evolution of networks to business systems and ensure the most return from their IT investments. This LifeCycle Services Methodology helps customers Plan, Build and Run their IT infrastructure and the approach defines the minimum set of activities needed, by technology and by network complexity, to help customers successfully deploy and operate Cisco technologies and optimize their performance.

 Today, let me walk you through in detail about the Lifecycle services methodology and how these phases help our customers get Ready, Better and Smarter as their IT infrastructure evolves.

 Cisco services are built and delivered around the network lifecycle consisting of the following phases:  Prepare, Plan, Design, Implement, Operate, and Optimize.  Each phase consists of its own distinct characteristics and purpose and each service developed inside Cisco by its Product Management (Advanced Services and Technical Services) team maps to one or more of these phases. These services are offered as a standard packaged offering or a customized offering to tailor each customer’s unique requirement.

The four phases of the standard network lifecycle model–Prepare/Plan, Design, Implement and Optimize–are the province of Advanced Services. The nearest standard industry synonym to Advanced Services is Professional Services. But Advanced Services, as Cisco uses the term, can probably be thought of as a subset of Professional Services because it restricts itself to offerings that go to market through conventional modes of delivery. What that restriction means in practice is that the definition of Advanced Services has historically excluded ones that are delivered through what Cisco at least would regard as nontraditional models. By “nontraditional models,” I mean examples such as managed services, hosted services, outsourcing and services in various guises that are delivered through cloud computing.

Some Advanced Services, primarily in the Prepare stage, tend to be consultative in nature and focus on preliminaries such as helping a customer develop a solid business case for deploying a contemplated new service. In Cisco parlance, such front-end deliverables often go by the name of Advisory Services. Next in the spectrum of Advanced Services come Plan services. One representative type of Plan services is a category that Cisco and its partners use to help customers assess the readiness of their current networks as well as absorbtion of advanced technologies such as Compute and Collaboration platforms as well as Security in their environment and to recommend potential enhancements if the infrastructure in some way proves wanting. Thus Prepare and Plan stage creates the agility our customer’s business needs to capture opportunities critical to growth and profitability and makes our customers Ready for market transitions, new business models and competitive challenges in their environment.

In the middle of Cisco’s lifecycle services are ones that fall into either the Design or Implement Advanced Services grouping. I won’t elaborate much here on the definition of Design and Implement services, as I hope the terms are reasonably self-explanatory. In a nutshell, Design services take the high-level recommendations that emerge from their Prepare/Plan predecessors and translate the advice into high and low-level designs that form the blueprint for the subsequent deployment of working network elements to deliver the scale and performance today, with the flexibility to meet tomorrow’s business requirements. With the detailed designs in hand, Cisco or its partners then call on their Implement services to install, configure, test and migrate the necessary solution (hardware and other assets) that together yield finished, operational architecture consisting of networks and advanced technologies such as IP NGN, collaboration platform, data center and security . These services help our customers derive Better value from technology investments, improved results, and faster time to market.


Technical support corresponds to the Operate phase of the network lifecycle and is synonymous with familiar industry terms such as “maintenance” or “break/fix” services. Technical support further splits into two broad sub-categories–conventional reactive services and proactive or predictive services.

Reactive services comprise elements such as Web-based support tools, remote support through technical assistance centers that customers reach through the phone, embedded software updates/upgrades and hardware replacement. From Cisco, customers can acquire a variety of reactive services programs that include SMARTnet, SP Base and Smart Foundation.

Proactive services, as their name implies, build upon reactive technical support by adding intellectual capital in the form of unique automated tools that detect incipient network issues–and in some cases, even preemptively correct them–before they become apparent to customers. The predictive nature of proactive technical support programs such as Cisco’s Smart Care distinguishes them from reactive maintenance services, which by definition begin to diagnose, troubleshoot and resolve a network problem only after a customer has already noticed and reported it to a vendor such as Cisco.

At the other end of scale lie Optimize services. If technical support aims to ensure that our hardware meets its contractual requirements, then optimization services strive to make sure that the solution and equipment exceeds those obligations and a customer’s expectations to maximize performance, maximize up time, and consistently deliver the services your customers demand. Probably the premier example of an Optimize service within Cisco’s portfolio is an offering known as Network Optimization Service, or NOS for short. The Optimization portfolio enables our customers to make Smarter business decisions through knowledge gained from secure visibility into networks.

As you undertake your data center transformation journey, I encourage you to make sure that your professional services experts are helping you to get Ready, Better and Smarter to create the business agility for growth and profitability, provide scale and performance to meet tomorrow’s business requirements and consistently delivering the services your customer demands while deriving maximum performance and maximum uptime from your IT infrastructure.

I hope I have clarified the Cisco Services’ Lifecycle methodology…look forward to your comments. In my next blog, I will get into the details around Cisco Services’ Data Center portfolio at


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  1. Great post Hiren!