Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Application Brief: Sales Demonstrations

Application Brief: Sales Demonstrations
Avaya Cuts Demo Costs with MIMIC™ Simulation Tool
MIMIC allows sales force to present dynamic, live CajunView™ Suite demos from laptops

Let’s face it – sales demos of networking gear and network management software are tough to pull off. Networks are complicated, and most vendors cannot afford to set up a demo network in every sales office. A demo, however, is the only way to show the complexities of software and reassure customers that hardware is “real.” Too often, a sales rep’s only option is to fly their customers to the corporate demo facilities. While these facilities are very nice, the networks in them are extremely expensive to build and maintain, have to be shared among sales reps and others that need the facility, and force the customer to commit to spending exponentially more time than they wanted getting a demo. No one will ever know the number of sales that could have been made if demo networks were available locally.

Until now, having a local demo network was a fantasy for most sales reps, but with MIMIC’s SNMP agent simulation technology, virtual demo networks can be set up on a single workstation. With such a “light” demo solution, demos can even be shown to customers right in their offices.

In the past, software and hardware vendors that wanted to bring a network demo to a potential customer had to ship huge boxes of equipment at high cost to the demo site. After the trauma of shipping, there was no guarantee that the devices would work, so smart vendors also sent spares. Set up was required by a technician – taking them out of the field. The cost of all this was exorbitant, including shipping, devices and personnel time. Sometimes after all that, the customer was called away on an emergency.

Today, MIMIC can record a live network, then make the simulation of the network devices available during a demo. For device vendors, they need only show the client one real device, then use the simulation to demonstrate how that hardware scales and how its management application is used. For software vendors, the MIMIC simulated network allows potential customers to experience the capabilities of even the most sophisticated management applications, without the cost of purchasing and lugging around third-party networking gear.

In the past, many sales have been made at vendor showcases – special set-ups where customers were invited to view hardware and software solutions locally. Imagine the increased success of sales teams, each armed with its own personal demo system!

In addition to individual sales demos, MIMIC is perfect for trade shows. MIMIC’s ability to record network scenarios, then play them back at trade shows really supports sales reps in explaining the benefits of their products. With MIMIC, reps are no longer limited to demonstrating their products on the few pieces of equipment available at the show – they can easily demonstrate even the scalability of their products through MIMIC’s ‘network-in-a-box’ capability. A picture’s worth a thousand words… seeing is believing… and demos sell – especially when vendors can show the extreme uses of their products through MIMIC.

Avaya Cuts Demo Costs with MIMIC™ Simulation Tool
MIMIC allows sales force to present dynamic, live CajunView™ Suite demos from laptops

The options for demonstrating networking hardware and the sophisticated software necessary to manage it are limited. Should vendors rent a truck, load it up with equipment and cabling and take it to the customer site? Where would they set it up once they get it there? Should they try to demo the software on the customer’s network? Would the customer allow access to the network for that? What types of unforeseen obstacles – potentially ruining the demo – would be encountered when installing software on a network for the first time? Or should vendors incur the cost to rent a conference room near the customer and spend hours setting up a system, only to have the customer reschedule? Or should they fly entourages of potential clients to a corporate demo center, only to find that one additional person who is key to the decision cycle is not included in the party?

These options consume time and money – not to mention the peril to the potential sale – requiring extensive personnel effort and capital resources. Due to these factors, actual demos of sophisticated networking equipment and network management software are often limited to “serious” customers who warrant the expenditure.

To solve this sales conundrum, Avaya decided to provide laptop-based demos of the complex software and hardware to enable sales force efficiency. Avaya tapped MIMIC, an SNMP agent simulation tool by Gambit Communications, for use in their CajunView Suite laptop demo.

CajunView provides a suite of SNMP-based applications for managing complex enterprise networks more easily. With this product, enterprises using Avaya Cajun Campus products can configure, monitor and control these devices using a single, integrated suite of applications — everything from device configuration to advanced switch monitoring and VLAN management.

Avaya’s CajunView engineers were already using MIMIC to provide simulations of Cajun devices in the test and development cycle, and had seen how it could solve the sales demo situation. MIMIC provided the ability to demonstrate the CajunView’s unique switched management, without building costly demo facilities or traveling shows.

Today, the sales force – which is charged with selling both CajunView and the Cajun switch line – can demo CajunView’s switched monitoring features right from their laptops. This demo mobility increases the number of potential customers that can see CajunView during the decision process, and may eventually lead to shorter sales cycles.

“With MIMIC simulating the hardware, the sales force can show CajunView exactly as they would on a live network,” said Bob Shaw, Marketing Engineer of Avaya. “Customers can see how CajunView handles alarms, how easily devices are diagnosed and configured, and how the different switched network segments are monitored simultaneously. And MIMIC is totally transparent to the sales force, so there’s no additional training time involved.”

Based on the SMON standard, which extends the RMON management standard to switched networks, Avaya’s SMON Master portion of CajunView provides simultaneous management of all switched segments in a network. Many offerings in the marketplace only allow the monitoring of one segment at a time, which makes CajunView an indispensable real-time management tool. MIMIC’s switch simulations allow this multi-segment management capability to be accurately and effectively demonstrated to customers. With MIMIC’s simulations, there is no difference between running a demo with a real device or a simulated device.

MIMIC’s demo scenarios are often more useful than with real networks, because many scenarios are difficult or impossible to create with real networks. For example, on a real network it is hard to create broadcast storms that suddenly grow disproportionately large, or malfunctioning NICs generating large CRC errors, or an Uplink that is causing an overload/congestion situation. MIMIC easily simulates and reproduces these scenarios. Avaya’s sales force can take advantage of this capability to show how SMON Master detects and resolves all these typical problem scenarios.

For the Avaya sales team, MIMIC has eliminated the expense of maintaining additional demo hardware and live demo facilities, as well as the time-consuming coordination of either setting up demos at customer sites or coordinating customer visits to demo centers. Eliminating the shipping of hardware for demos alone represents significant savings.

In addition, the sales team never needs to worry about whether demo equipment and facilities will be available – the demo capability on their laptop exactly duplicates CajunView’s functionality in a live network. From facility costs to equipment capital budgets to shipping costs and personnel administration time, using MIMIC’s simulation capabilities to automate the CajunView demo will create savings throughout Avaya’s sales and marketing organizations.


Founded in 1995, Gambit Communications is a leader in network and SNMP simulation tools that enhance the productivity of network management developers and enterprise users while lowering their costs.

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