If you’re a reseller in the enterprise unified communications (UC) networking space struggling to maintain high quality of service (QoS) levels, the following probably sounds painfully familiar: You work with your customer to identify a policy need, then dive in with a team of people to map the policy and make sure it fits correctly in the network architecture. You draw plans for where to manually apply and configure the policy on the network devices across the enterprise. Then teams of people have to manually write the policies to the devices across the network. Any time the client wants to add new devices to the network, they have to be manually configured so as to maintain QoS with existing devices. By the time you’ve done all that, new policy needs have been identified, and the whole cycle kicks off again. Through it all, “manual” is the overarching them—and the biggest source of error.
On top of the complexity, all those manual touchpoints cause slowdowns in the realized value of new devices and technologies deployed to the network. And for traditional VARs, you’re stuck trying to figure out and establish thresholds and policies that, hopefully, will maintain the necessary QoS after your sale and installation is complete. God forbid you need to establish QoS settings to multiple vendors in wired and wireless devices.
Back in March of this year, Cisco launched an open, extensible and software driven architecture for digital business called Digital Network Architecture (DNA). DNA extends the policy-driven approach and software strategy throughout the entire network: from campus to branch, wired to wireless, core to edge. At Cisco Live this week, UC solutions provider Nectar Services released a new product called Evolution that automates QoS management through Cisco DNA using a rules-based policy engine, furthering Cisco’s vision of delivering an open, programmable, flexible network through a new generation of network-aware applications.
It’s the “new generation” part that should be intriguing to VARs. Cisco DNA—and Nectar Evolution—allow channel companies to migrate from being just a reseller or just a maintenance (break-fix) partner to a full managed service partner. The technologies leverage the exploding trend of automation, allowing Cisco partners to expand their portfolio of offerings by moving into more advance designs deployed faster without spending all of their time just maintaining customer networks. In theory, this will increase the value partners can bring to their customers while reducing costs.
“It elevates the conversation, elevates the partner’s role within the customer,” says Steven Purcell, senior director of Global Cisco Program Management at Nectar. “As our partners leverage technologies like Evolution to become trusted advisors, they capture a great customer wallet share and their services become more ‘sticky’ which ensures a longer run of margin-rich revenue.”
Evolution has been in development for the last year and brings Nectar technology into the actual infrastructure, interacting with the network through APIC-EM. The integration with Cisco DNA enables Nectar to optimize voice, video and collaboration experiences across Cisco Unified Communications Manager and Microsoft Skype for Business, two of the most popular collaboration solutions in the industry. Purcell foresees adoption of DNA in the marketplace exploding in the next 18 to 24 months, and it’s what he’s most eager to leverage to better position Nectar’s offerings.
“We are the most excited about the endless possibilities and use cases that Evolution has through Cisco DNA. There are several key components that APIC-EM has that we can leverage not only with Evolution but across our entire product line.”