CiscoNetworkNY_400x265“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us,” reflected Hal Borland, a renowned American author and journalist. As we enter 2016 it is pragmatism that matters most to network professionals. How can you address risks from as yet unknown threats? Free up time from routine network maintenance and redirect it to strategic IT tasks? Assure that your infrastructure doesn’t suffer from the use of obsolete or aging equipment? Expedite problem resolution when network issues can’t be avoided?

Here you’ll find practical answers to these and other critical questions about streamlining your network installed base management. Not all the tips originate with me. Customers shared several, while others come from years of Cisco experience in optimizing the network experience.

As more enterprises move toward digital transformation there is no better time than now to make sure your network is fit for the future. January is the month when health club memberships spike as people commit themselves to a healthier lifestyle. Why not take the opportunity to use the list below to ensure your own network’s fitness (without even leaving your desk)?

1) Move beyond network maintenance and save time with automation.
Time is your most valuable resource. Yet research indicates that upwards of 80% of network management time is spent simply maintaining infrastructure. Freeing up time from routine maintenance helps you focus on more strategic IT assignments. Cisco Smart Net Total Care eliminates certain installed base management steps and accelerates others. View how you can get more out of your day using these proactive, time-saving tips.

2) Resolve network problems faster.
With one consolidated information dashboard, the Smart Net Total Care portal provides deep visibility into devices in your network and gives you essential information to automatically speed up problem resolution. This includes both basic and in-depth information to open a TAC case such as configuration status, serial number, contract number, service level and unresolved alerts. Find out how you can accelerate your incident management workflow using this handy portal features and benefits guide.

3) Look deeper into your network to detect problems.
When managing your network the devil is in the details. With thousands of devices to manage things can get pretty hot. Cool down by using collector software from Cisco or a third party, such as Netformx or Solar Winds, to automatically gather device information ranging from serial numbers, configuration files, and hardware or software versions. Then use the Smart Net Total Care portal to create customized reports to view the device details you care most about, such as end of life status and support contract coverage.

4) Identify hidden network vulnerabilities.
Sports fans know that a defensive gap can easily put their favorite team at risk and buy them a ticket home. Protecting your network isn’t much different. Proactively identifying real and potential risks is pivotal to a good network defense. Cisco Smart Net Total Care allows you to review service levels and assess gaps in coverage to help you get ahead of problems before they occur.

5) Ensure proper service coverage to mitigate network risks.
Devices uncovered by a support contract can be a disaster waiting to happen – therefore, protect yourself. Run an analysis of your installed base using Smart Net Total Care reporting. Determine your uncovered devices and then add the most critical devices to your service contract.

6) Self-service using Cisco Digital Support.
Solving basic network issues on your own saves time – if you have the right resources at your fingertips. Did you know that customers resolve 82% of all technical issues using the award-winning Cisco Support Website? Or, that simply logging in delivers personalized links to your content, software and support cases? See how you can use this valuable Cisco support resource.

7) Stay on top of content relevant to your specific model.
The Cisco Support Website lets you view model-specific content spanning product specifications, end of life information, support documentation and software releases. See how with this model “at a glance” page.

8) Keep your device software up-to-date.
Cisco is constantly improving the software that runs on your products. The Cisco Support Website gives you several quick ways to select software and download with a single click. You’ll also find an online application that offers expert advice to select the right release. Learn more about updating your device software.

9) Use specialized network Support Tools to speed up tasks.
Often you will want to perform a specialized task, like dealing with software bugs, subscribing to network support notifications or decoding an error message. The Cisco Support Website offers 35+ tools, which Technical Assistance Center engineers also use to solve cases. Check out the website’s growing Support Tools Catalog.

10) Make Digital Support your traveling companion.
On the go, you want a mobile app that is more than a website clone. The Cisco Technical Support app gives iOS and Android users built-for-mobile features, lets you interact with Cisco Support, and uses bar code scanning and GPS functions to let you upload device information for a support case and verify install location. Check out and download the Cisco Technical Support mobile app.

If you’re interested in more recommendations, the video below offers tips on avoiding device problems. And to learn more about Smart Net Total Care, visit the customer community.

Help Cisco help others: Share your own tips in the comments section below on how you plan to ensure your network is ready, fit and able for 2016. And if you are already using Cisco Smart Net Total Care or Cisco Support services, I’d love to hear how these solutions are facilitating your current IT operations. Happy New Year!


Subu Subramanian

Vice President and General Manager

Smart Services Installed Base (SSIB) Solutions Group