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Cisco Smart Business Communications Series Support Options Q&A

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CISCO SMART BUSINES COMMNICATIONS SERIES SUPPORT OPTIONS Q&A

Q.   What is Cisco’s configuration support strategy for the Cisco Smart Business Communications System (SBCS) including the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series (UC500)?

A.    Support is focused on GUI-based configuration for the components in SBCS. These GUIs include the Cisco Configuration Assistant, Cisco Office Manager, and the individual hardware device manager GUIs. For the UC500, Cisco Configuration Assistant provides a specific, repeatable configuration methodology that the Cisco Small Business Support Center can support.

Q.   What group in Cisco provides support for the SBCS, including the UC500 and Cisco Configuration Assistant?

A.    The Small Business Support Center provides support for the Smart Business Communications System with UC540 and UC560 only (Cisco TAC supports SBCS with UC520). Customers are required to have a valid service contract (Cisco Small Business Support Service) in order to receive ongoing support for the Cisco UC540 and UC560.

Q.   Why doesn’t Cisco support both the CLI and Cisco Configuration Assistant (CCA) for configuration?

A.    The use of Cisco Configuration Assistant builds a predictable, repeatable configuration methodology that enables Cisco to support a broad range of sophisticated voice features on the UC500 platform using a GUI-based configuration tool. CLI-based configuration potentially provides a broader range of capabilities and also allows for more customization of features as well as customization of how the configuration is actually written. When the two methods are mixed, configuration conflicts can occur when Cisco Configuration Assistant tries to read a configuration that has been custom-built through the CLI. Troubleshooting these conflicts can be frustrating and time-consuming for Cisco partners. Proficiency in CLI for voice requires dedicated training, and Cisco partners can choose to take advantage of training and certification programs for Cisco products that run Cisco Call Manager Express call processing software to fully support CLI-based configuration.

It is important to understand that once a partner chooses to use CLI for configuration, CCA may no longer be used. Once configuration changes have been made in CLI, using CCA will lead to system instability which typically results in partner and customer dissatisfaction. As well, Office Manager can only be supported in CCA-only deployments, as it requires a well understood IOS configuration to function correctly.

Q.   If a partner has existing deployments that used CLI for configuration and/or a combination of CLI and Cisco Configuration Assistant, does that deployment/configuration have to be rebuilt to Cisco Configuration Assistant only?

A.    No. If the system is operating normally, there is no requirement for that deployment to be transitioned to a Cisco Configuration Assistant only configuration.

Q.   What if I have an existing UC540 or UC560 deployment that uses all or a partial CLI configuration and I have a support need in the future?

A.    The Cisco Small Business Support Center will continue to support deployments done prior to January 3, 2011 based on valid support contracts for break/fix scenarios. For feature additions to those deployments, support will be provided only when the configuration is compatible with Cisco Configuration Assistant.

Q.   Where can I find a description of the features supported in the Cisco SBCS?

A.    The SBCS Feature Reference Guide lists all the features that are officially tested and supported in the system. This includes features configured through the Cisco Configuration Assistant or Cisco Office Manager. Partners can preview what is planned for the next release of Cisco Configuration Assistant in the Small Business Support Community as well as provide input on desired features (https://supportforums.cisco.com/docs/DOC-12629).

Q.   What if there are features that my customers are asking for that are not supported in Cisco Configuration Assistant but may be enabled through the Cisco IOS Software CLI?

A.    The SBCS Feature Reference Guide lists all features that are supported by Cisco. Features outside of those listed, even if enabled by the CLI, will not be supported.

Q.   Doesn’t the Out of Band Guide explain what can be configured with the CLI after using Cisco Configuration Assistant?

A.    The Out of Band Guide was provided to help partners that were continuing to use both Cisco Configuration Assistant and the CLI. With the updated clarification on the configuration policy, as well as the progress on the Cisco Configuration Assistant feature roadmap, the Out of Band Guide will no longer be needed.

Q.   How long will Cisco continue to support the combination of CLI and Cisco Configuration Assistant configurations (how long is the grace period)?

A.    New deployments of the Cisco UC540 and UC560 as of January 3, 2011 are supported only when Cisco Configuration Assistant is used for configuration. Cisco will continue to support partners with service contracts for Cisco UC540s and UC560s configured with Cisco Configuration Assistant and the CLI that were deployed previously based on the timelines and terms of the service contracts for break/fix scenarios.

Q.   Is this a policy change?

A.    No. When the Cisco UC540 and UC560 were announced, support was centered on Cisco Configuration Assistant based configuration with the new Cisco Small Business Support Center. These models are part of the strategy to provide a cost-effective small business voice solution to a broad range of Cisco partners that don’t necessarily have advanced training in CLI-based voice configuration. After the launch of the Cisco UC540 and UC560, many partners continued to use CLI-based configuration and have opened support cases with the Small Business Support Center. Cisco has not strictly enforced the policy of supporting only Cisco Configuration Assistant based configurations. However, Cisco restated the support policy for the UC540 and UC560 and, as of January 3, 2011, began more strictly enforcing this policy. The Cisco Small Business Support Center supports new UC540 and UC560 deployments based only on Cisco Configuration Assistant configurations.

Partners with a Unified Communications (UC) Channel Partner Specialization <http://www.cisco.com/web/partners/program/specializations/ucom/index.html>  (Express-UC, Advanced-UC or Master-UC) possess strong technical skills and an understanding of CLI, which provides them with the capability to successfully deploy and support the UC540/UC560 platforms using CLI.  The Small Business Support Center will provide CLI support on the UC540/UC560 for those UC Specialized Partners.

It is important to understand that once a partner chooses to use CLI for configuration, CCA may no longer be used/supported. Once configuration changes have been made in CLI, using CCA will lead to system instability which typically results in partner and customer dissatisfaction. Once a configuration has been modified using CLI, SBSC engineers will provide support via CLI-only.As well, Office Manager can only be supported in CCA-only deployments, as it requires a well understood IOS configuration to function correctly.

Q. What are the expectations of UC Specialized Partners who provide CLI configured UC540 and UC560 systems to their customers?

A. UC540 and UC560 are unified communication systems designed for small businesses when configuring with CCA.  Since small businesses typically do not have staff skilled in CLI configuration, they typically would need assistance from their Cisco UC Specialized Partner when confronted with any support issues if their system was configured with CLI.  Therefore, during support interactions the Cisco Small Business Support Center will advise small business customers requiring CLI support to involve their U.C. Specialized Partner.

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