Traditionally, providing a sales demo for network management software meant setting up a physical environment featuring the desired variety of networking equipment to cover the sales demonstration to the particular target customer.
Furthermore, most sales scenarios required complicated setup, and required travel to the customer site, or trade shows, or time-sharing of central facilities in a sales demo lab or web-site. These limitations made such demos cost prohibitive, resulting in small-scale, static demos that did not materially impact sales conversion.
With the advent of ubiquitous virtual machines (VMs) and network simulation, sales demo labs can be provisioned cost-effectively by implementing virtual demo appliances on either public or private clouds. Bundling the management app and MIMIC Simulator on a VM image, allows the sales staff to instantiate as many demo labs as needed at any point in time, and for the sales associate to access the demo environment over the Internet whenever and as long as needed. Realistic self-service sales demonstrations can be provisioned automatically.
Benefits of cloud based sales
Besides the obvious benefits of reduced sales cycle and higher conversion due to targeted demonstration of a variety of features, higher customer satisfaction and more customer loyalty (thus, repeat business), here are some additional advantages of appliance-based sales:
- Multiple on-demand demo and training can be scheduled without worrying about conflict or sharing.
- On-demand pre-sales training can be used for application evaluation. With a larger variety of scenarios, demos can be tailored to the customers needs.
- Many potential customers take a long time to setup the test lab and install the application for the evaluation. An online demo can get them started on playing with application earlier so they can already get familiarized with the features. When the lab gets ready, they can directly start on testing the specific needs. This reduces the sales cycle significantly.
- Partner training reduces the support cycle and improves closing rate by better demonstrating features that specifically solve customer requirements
MIMIC Simulator is a simulation software suite including SNMP Simulator, WEB Simulator, NetFlow/sFlow Simulator, designed to accurately create virtual environments to interoperate with network management applications. This solution is already deployed in an on-demand cloud offering called Cisco dCloud, with on-demand sales labs for Cisco Prime Infrastructure. This offering leverages the SNMP, NetFlow and Cisco IOS simulation features of MIMIC toward high-impact sales demonstrations.
Other such sales demo appliances can easily be implemented as an on-demand, single-tenant offering. Similarly to traditional software installations, the network management application is installed in a VM environment along with MIMIC Simulator. The simulator transparently provides a scalable, dynamic network environment to be managed by the application. The customer and even the sales associate driving the demo usually does not know what is running behind the scenes.
Many R&D and Quality Assurance departments already test network management applications against MIMIC Simulator. They setup the simulator to provide predictable, repeatable, regression able scenarios that run the management software through its paces. Those scenarios can be adapted for sales demos.
An extra customization adds a simple demonstration scaffold to provide the sales staff a user-friendly choice of scenarios to demonstrate. Each scenario configures the simulator to create a particular network configuration and traffic patterns to impact the management application. For example, a faulty configuration or an attack scenario can be simulated to show troubleshooting procedures.
Once a snapshot of this VM lab is saved, any number of independent instances can be provisioned for the required demo periods. The cloud framework isolates each of the VM labs from each other, preventing them from affecting each other.
A combination of MIMIC Simulator and network management application bundled on a virtual machine provides cost-effective, on-demand sales demonstrations tailored to customer needs. Deploying this appliance on the public cloud scales the demo resources at incremental and predictable cost, enabling precise cost/benefit analysis when integrated into the sales CRM environment.
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