Gartner: Cisco users act now to dodge service fee hike

Users of some older Cisco Systems Inc. gear should act quickly to extend their service contracts or face paying higher bills after the vendor restructures its maintenance pricing on July 1, Gartner Inc. says.

The analyst firm says the five per cent to 10 per cent maintenance contract pricing increases for older router product families — such as the Cisco 4500/4700 and 7500 — as well as increases of up to 20 per cent on Cisco’s Content Family Engine products can be avoided if customers extend their current maintenance to lock in current maintenance contract rates.

While Cisco is upping some of its hardware maintenance contract pricing, enterprise users could get as much as a 15 per cent to 35 per cent break on pricing for its Software Application Support and Software Application Support plus Upgrades programs.

The Gartner Group says customers should look into third-party maintenance offerings if they are looking for deals on maintenance costs, but the firm warns that putting one degree of separation between its enterprise products and the manufacture could cause enterprise customers to lose some control over how technical and maintenance issues are escalated through Cisco support.

In general, Gartner says companies should negotiate maintenance rates for products before purchasing, and they should always opt for multiyear deals to increase discount levels.

The firm also says that maintenance contracts for chassis-based switching and routing products should be looked over carefully. If companies are not using only the most complex and advanced modules and configurations on a product, the could probably go with less expensive maintenance plan, the firm says.

Users should also look into eliminating maintenance contracts all together for commodity network gear, such as simple Layer 2 switches or hubs that run in stable environments and have simple software images running on them. In some cases, keeping a spare device could be cheaper than the maintenance contract, the firm says.

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