NHR Battles Cisco With Maintenance, Support Program


The new program from Santa Barbara, Calif.-based NHR, dubbed NetSure, is available for most currently deployed networking gear in North America regardless of if it was bought through NHR.

"We will cover any equipment, not just what we sell or have sold," said NHR president and CEO Mike Sheldon, adding that NetSure does not cover networking software and, in many cases, can be used to supplement SMARTnet contracts.

Sheldon said NetSure offers 24x7 technical support and next-day hardware replacement. Sheldon said NetSure often clocks in at 50 percent to 90 percent cheaper than OEM contracts like Cisco's SMARTnet service and covers equipment dating back to the mid-1990s whether it's new, used or legacy gear. The 24-hour support puts users in touch with a team comprising Cisco-certified technicians that can handle the network core, distribution and access layers.

NetSure also does not charge an inspection fee and its pricing model is based on specific modules, not on the chassis, meaning companies can tailor their support for specific locations or portions of their networks.

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Enhanced NetSure support can also include installation assistance, configuration review and advanced troubleshooting, Sheldon said. NHR can act as a single point of contact for heterogeneous networks by supporting gear manufactured by not only Cisco, but also Juniper Networks, Foundry Networks and Extreme Networks.

According to NHR, the company recently surveyed 400 customers and found that almost half want to augment their SMARTnet with complementary technical support. More than a third of those surveyed said they only cover core equipment under SMARTnet, and nearly 40 percent said they were interested in finding a more affordable, flexible technical service for remote offices and edge routers.

In a statement, NHR said NetSure covers previous generation and end-of-life gear that Cisco's SMARTnet no longer covers, like Cisco 6500 Series switches, which have an installed base of more than 350,000 units. NHR said are not eligible for new SMARTnet support contracts.

"It something is end of life today with Cisco, they could insure it with NetSure," he said.

But according to Cisco's end-of-life announcement on the 6500 Series, the last day to extend or renew a SMARTnet contract for 6500 switches will be Feb. 1, 2011, despite the 6500 series being announced as end of life in November 2005.

Sheldon said NetSure comes in at roughly 20 percent cheaper than SMARTnet with newer, modular equipment. For other equipment, such as a Cisco 7206 router, he estimated NetSure users could save 50 percent over SMARTnet. And with older, legacy equipment, he said NetSure offers 75 percent or more in support savings.

NetSure, Sheldon said, gives companies the ability to avoid the high cost of OEM maintenance, which can result in safeguarding core equipment only, often leaving the rest of the network vulnerable to failures. He said NRH bases NetSure costs on current market value of the product. Contracts that are extended longer than a year feature a built in discount to account for a piece of equipment's decrease in value.

"NetSure provides the freedom to choose the level of support that makes the most technical and financial sense for the entire network, without compromising proficient responsive service," Sheldon said. "Moreover, NetSure helps organizations avoid forced upgrades by extending the lifecycle of viable equipment that has reached OEM end-of-support and can no longer be placed under manufacturer maintenance."

A pricing sheet from NHR NetSure shows the cost of a support contract for a Cisco Catalyst WS-C6509 chassis configuration under SMARTnet can run between roughly $7,000 and $11,000 dollars, while under NetSure, the cost is roughly $1,300. NHR said support for Cisco's 40C12X/POS-I-SC-B line card runs just over $1,000 with NetSure and between roughly $5,000 and $8,000 with SMARTnet.

"It's never going to be more than SMARTnet," he said.

According to Cisco, SMARTnet provides customers with global access to the Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC); access to the Cisco.com knowledgebase and tools; next-business-day advance hardware replacement, with premium options available for business critical devices, such as two-hour replacement and onsite parts replacement and installation; ongoing operating system software updates and upgrades; and Cisco OS software support to extend the life of Cisco devices with improved security, increased performance, bandwidth management, new protocol support and greater interoperability.

While San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco would not comment specifically on NHR's NetSure program, a Cisco spokeswoman said: "The network is mission critical to our customer's business success and thus needs to be supported with the highest quality services available. Cisco SMARTnet Service is an award-winning technical support service that offers direct, anytime access to Cisco engineers and an extensive range of technical resources. SMARTnet also provides ongoing software updates and upgrades, which is a critical element of our customer's networking purchasing decisions."