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Cisco managed service supports small-business VARs

Cisco has created a managed service for its channel partners focused on small-business accounts.

The service, called OnPlus, provides technology solution providers with an appliance and cloud-delivered managed service toolset for supporting network assessments, management and other network advisory services. It is part of Cisco’s pledge to invest $75 million in enablement and systems capabilities that help solution providers grow their businesses.

Dave Tang, director of strategy for Cisco Small Business programs, said research has shown that fewer than 10 percent of small-business VARs have a formal managed service practice. “We are looking to provide them with the tools and capabilities that will allow them to launch these services more formally,” he said.

OnPlus supports the development of services based on the following:

  • Assessment – By providing a means for “discovering” network devices and collecting information about warranties, configurations and the like, the solution provider can help advise small businesses about their current and future technology needs.
  • Management – OnPlus supports remote connectivity to manageable network devices (from any manufacturer, not just Cisco), so that VARs can provide ongoing advice and troubleshooting support.
From the VAR’s standpoint, OnPlus enables a company to scale to service more customers without having to hire more technical staff, according to Tang. “Their key to profitability is how well they use their technical staff,” he said.

OnPlus will be updated routinely, as technologies are themselves updated, Tang said. VARs will be able to access the managed service through browsers, as well as native mobile applications for both Apple iOS platforms and for Google Android-powered devices.

Each OnPlus Network Agent appliance costs $250, which includes a three-year subscription to the OnPlus Service. The service is initially available to Cisco partners in North America; additional geographies will be supported at a later date.

Tang said there are already several hundred small-business networks being managed through the service, which has been in a beta test release phase for the past year. The service is targeted at networks that support several hundred devices.

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