For many years, the independent hardware support community (also known as “Third Party Maintenance”) were able to provide cost-effective support options to expensive SMARTnet support (for eligible assets). This alternative support helped many clients save a significant percentage off their Cisco support budgets! Both the savings created and the providers’ service quality were nothing short of a delight for those who chose to adopt a hybrid hardware support model.
Those were the days, my friends. I thought they’d never end!
In the last few years, Cisco has audited some of their customers who chose third party maintenance – arguing that spare parts from the secondary market did not have valid software licenses. More recently, Cisco has broadly deployed a new program called Cisco Smart Licensing. Smart Licensing permanently ties a device to its original purchaser and makes it technically infeasible to sell a device on the secondary market. Essentially, it converts your hardware purchase into a lease. Moreover, since only Cisco can transfer a Smart license from a failed router or switch to a replacement, you can be forced to buy[i] SMARTnet on devices where all you need is hardware replacement and TAC support.
Cisco has eliminated any alternative for maintenance on Smart Licensed hardware and deprived you of the choice to proactively reduce your Cisco OpEx budgets. Your Third Party Maintenance provider is truly “hobbled” for assets under this new Smart Licensing program.
Ultimately, the support model created by your helpful independent provider will be possible with fewer and fewer assets, eventually going away completely. So, what are your options now? Sadly, the current options are truly limited.
But, I’m encouraged to share that XS International, with 30 years experience in networking support, WILL be launching a very unique service within the next 5-6 weeks! When announced and launched, this unique service will save time/headaches, as well as important budget dollars. Stay tuned!
In fact, to be one of the first to know, consider following our business profile at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/xs-international-inc-/ Also, I welcome any connection requests at my own LinkedIn profile.
 Some have suggested that such licensing regimes are similar to illegal “tying” arrangements under antitrust law – where you are forced to buy a good you don’t want in order to get the good that you do want. The EU has already rejected such licensing regimes, forcing Cisco to make an exception for hardware transferred within the EU. But, that can be the subject of another full blog post.
Grant Patten, Vice President, XS International
With 15 years in networking support leadership at independent support providers, Grant joined XS International in 2019. He is CCIE and CISSP certified. In his past, he built and managed the networking support operations for SMS Systems Maintenance Service (merged with Curvature), and was a principal consultant at Lucent Technologies. Grant earned his Bachelors from Fayetteville State University and then J.D. from Harvard Law School. He and his family reside in Davidson, North Carolina.