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Cisco recently simplified the way SMARTnet is calculated for its flagship Nexus switch, in particular the modular switch models: Nexus 5000 (N5K) and Nexus 7000 (N7K).SMARTnet, of course, is Cisco’s bundled hardware and software support. As of August 1st SMARTnet for the Nexus is based on a single item, the switch chassis.  When Cisco launched the Nexus product family SMARTnet was calculated on all items in a switch configuration, not just the chassis.  All modules (or blades) in a Nexus switch each had its own SMARTnet support and price.  The process of purchasing and tracking multiple Smartnet options on a single Nexus switch was complex and confusing especially as switches were upgraded over time.

Like the Catalyst 4500 and 6500 modular switches, the Nexus switch will have a simplified SMARTnet process.  This is good news, however the question still remains:  Will this change result in higher or lower Smartnet costs?

Let’s look at SMARTnet pricing on a modest configuration under the old and new pricing models:

N7K-C7010    10 Slot Chassis

2 x N7K-M148GS-11L   Nexus 7000 - 48 Port GE Module with XL Option

1 x N7K-M148GT-11L   Nexus 7000 - 48 Port 10/100/1000 Module with XL option 

2 x N7K-SUP1   Nexus 7000 - Supervisor, Includes External 8GB Log Flash 

3 x N7K-C7010-FAB-1   Nexus 7000 - 10 Slot Chassis - 46Gbps/Slot Fabric Module 

2 x N7K-AC-7.5KW-US   Nexus 7000 - 7.5KW AC Power Supply Module US

Pricing under old model:

- ONSITE 24X7X4   $10,490

- SMARTNET 24X7X4   $8,392

Pricing under new model:

- ONSITE 24X7X4 10 Slot Chassis (CON-OSP-C7010)    $18312

- SMARTNET 24X7X4 10 Slot Chassis (CON-SNTP-C7010)   $14650

At first glance it seems that SMARTnet costs are higher by 75%!  However, under the old pricing model a Nexus switch configuration that includes 10GE modules (e.g. N7K-M132XP-12) would have narrowed the cost gap significantly.  Similarly, if all 10 slots were filled with modules the pricing would have been comparable.  More than likely the new pricing model brings added cost in exchange for simplicity and budgeting for 2012 should consider this probability. 

Lastly, SMARTnet contracts priced under the old model will be priced under the new model at renewal time.  Given that SMARTnet is no longer available for individual modules (not on the Cisco price list) a company that wants to add a module to an existing contract will probably not be charged in the interim.  Other maintenance alternatives, such as those from Canvas Systems, are available and typically can produce up to 40% savings on SMARTnet.  Most enterprises today are moving hardware and software support from the OEM to service organizations with better pricing and multi-platform capabilities.

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