Comstor, the Cisco-dedicated business unit of Westcon Group, has announced an innovative new partner enablement program delivering seamless and rapid configuration as well as continuous pro-active support services to the SMB market sector. Westcon Group is a value-added distributor of category-leading unified communications, infrastructure and security solutions with a global network of specialty resellers.
Branded Activ8, these services are designed for UK resellers and focused on delivering “Zero Touch” configuration for Cisco UC solutions, as well as a “Low Touch” Management service. The program is the result of a unique collaboration between Comstor, Cisco and managed services application provider UBIQube, a global leader in network management and provisioning solutions.
Comstor Activ8 Program Manager Justin Turner outlines the first stage of the Activ8 process, “Zero Touch” configuration: “Reseller partners participating in the Activ8 program leverage a web-based interface that allows pre-sales engineers to capture user requirements – which can be completed in one session or over a series of meetings. Our resellers want to demystify the configuration process, thus Activ8 screens are designed to be intuitive and easy to use. With Activ8 you don’t need to be a highly skilled Cisco voice engineer to complete the requirements capture stage.”
Once requirements capture has been completed, an order is placed automatically for the specified components via the tight integration of the Activ8 toolset with Comstor’s logistics operation. Comstor’s logistics team receives the order components and then physically connects the required Cisco UC500 system to the Activ8 service and initiates a fully automated process that identifies phone MAC addresses and maps them to users, labels phones with user names and/or extension numbers and configures a VLAN on the companion switch.
The final system is then drop-shipped to the customer destination where the reseller engineer is on site to deploy the fully pre-configured system. This is a simple process of racking and stacking the Cisco UC500 and switches, deploying and connecting phones and external PSTN, and DSL services — before a final test. The result is no configuration errors, less engineer time on site, no repeat engineer visits, and less time to increased customer satisfaction.
Justin Turner explains the second key component of the Activ8 service – ‘”Low Touch” continuous support: “Sustaining a high level of ongoing support is critically important to our resellers’ profitability and the long term sustainability of their customer relationships. Activ8 provides an entire operational model for resellers to build an effective, high quality support service for their customers as part of their total solution.”
Via the same reseller portal, the Activ8 “Low Touch” support and management service provides easy-to-use facilities for remote Moves, Adds and Changes, daily Backups of Running Configuration, real time Monitoring of all VoIP Active Services, telephony and Voicemail features, SIP, FXO, PSTN and License Management, SNMP Triggers for Monitoring and Analysis Tools and Automated Service Reports.
These facilities offer participating resellers the foundation of a managed services model they can brand, extend and market to their customers — which is fully resourced, consistently priced and offers proven service levels.
Behind the scenes, Comstor is partnering with an innovative technology provider in the system provisioning and management market – UBIqube Systems. The Comstor and Ubique partnership opens up opportunities for services in other technologies such as advanced router provisioning and feature license management, security appliance provisioning, management and service reporting.
UBIqube’s Sales Director for Europe Rogier Van Der Wal explains: “UBIqube is the recognised Cisco Developer Network partner for system provisioning and service management. We are delighted to see our proven model for managed converged services exclusively adopted by Comstor to create Activ8, expanding these services into the Cisco distribution channel for the first time.”
Cisco Distribution Sales Manager for the UK, Andy Brocklehurst, concludes: “Activ8 is an important development for the Cisco SMB reseller community in the UK. Through my involvement in Cisco’s expansion in the UK small business market and relationships with SMB resellers, I’ve seen first-hand that Activ8 is born from the needs of those working in the sector. I’m confident that Activ8 will prove itself to be a very welcome addition to our resellers’ toolkit.”