replaces failed routers with configured spare.

Offering a service that's an add-on to Cisco's SMARTnet maintenance plan, replaces failed routers with configured spare.

A Service Niche A few years ago, former Cisco Systems channel guru Tom Stevenson conducted a nationwide campaign to convince box-pushing resellers to sell value. Barry Bisson was in attendance at one of Stevenson's whistle-stops and took his message to heart.

The result is, a San Francisco firm that specializes in replacing failed routers with a configured spare. Bisson's brainchild stems from his experience as president of CRC Networks, a premium Cisco reseller. "At CRC, I got a lot of experience with Cisco equipment and handling configurations," he says. "I started to realize some of the difficulties of trying to maintain up-to-date configurations and, when a router fails, getting that information where it needs to be." Bisson had found his value-added niche.

So in June 1999, Bisson left CRC, raised seed capital and began laying the technical foundation for, which was formally launched in September. Bisson is president and CEO of the start-up. The company's basic premise is that Cisco routers don't fail often, but when they do, the task of doing a remote configuration is long and costly. Bisson estimates that router and other network failures generate $500 million in unanticipated support costs each year in the U.S.

Go Configure To address that issue, maintains a secure, Web-based repository of customers' router configurations. The company's ReadyRetriever software utility keeps the repository current by providing periodic snapshots of customers' configurations. That way, when a customer's router goes down, can tap its re pository to configure a replacement unit.

The company ships configured routers via next-day air but also offers four-hour and configuration-only service levels. The four-hour service relies on Cisco's SMARTnet Onsite maintenance program. The configuration-only service is designed for customers who have a hot spare but want ReadyRouter to store and update their router configurations.

Bisson envisions his company's offerings as an add-on to Cisco's SMARTnet maintenance plan. The services are geared toward organizations with multiple remote sites, such as companies with numerous branches or telecommuting offices linked to a private corporate network.

In the case of the four-hour service, pricing starts at $150 per year per unit.

What's In It For You?'s services are sold only through authorized Cisco resellers. The company thus far has signed up 130 resellers in 20 countries. Customers range from six-person shops to international service providers such as Getronics, according to Bisson. He says his company is negotiating a deal with Tech Data Corp., under which the distributor will offer services as SKUs available to its reseller customers.