Enterprise and hosted contact centers demand applications that provide visibility and collaboration across multiple sales channels, business units, and partners. As they face the challenges of deploying, upgrading, and managing these solutions, both new and experienced contact centers with integrated contact center software can experience setup and ongoing operational and maintenance costs which could impact the ability to provide a cost-effective solution to the end user.
Cisco® Support Tools is specifically designed to address the support and serviceability challenges in enterprise and hosted contact centers. The Cisco Support Tools suite aims to help lower the costs to service and manage the Cisco Intelligent Contact Management (ICM) and Cisco IP Contact Center (IPCC) solutions (each offering both Enterprise and Hosted Editions) by reducing upgrade and problem-resolution costs.
The Cisco ICM and IPCC Enterprise and Hosted Editions are strategic platforms that help enable customers to move into the next phase of customer contact-beyond today's contact center to a Customer Interaction Network. The Customer Interaction Network is a distributed, IP-based customer service infrastructure that comprises a continuously evolving suite of innovative, multichannel services and customer-relationship-management (CRM) applications. These services and applications provide enhanced responsiveness and streamlined customer exchanges to help your organization deliver superior customer service. A Customer Interaction Network extends customer service capabilities across the entire organization, giving your business a more integrated and collaborative approach to customer satisfaction-leading to a better customer experience.
CISCO SUPPORT TOOLS OVERVIEW
Cisco Support Tools is a suite of more than 50 utilities that help enable users to manage and troubleshoot the Cisco ICM and IPCC nodes, which process call load, routing, and reporting. With the Cisco Support Tools suite, troubleshooting configuration and performance problems can be performed from a single machine on the network.
The Cisco Support Tools suite provides new levels of availability and manageability, especially during deployments and upgrades, as well as within the normal workings of a contact center. The Cisco Support Tools suite helps to cut IT support costs for software that is either deployed in-house or hosted at a service provider, making it attractive for many corporations.
FEATURES AND BENEFITS
The utilities in the Cisco Support Tools suite can be accessed through a secure browser-based interface, called the Cisco Support Tools Dashboard (Figure 1). In addition, these same utilities can be accessed remotely through a command-line interface (CLI). The dashboard is installed on the Cisco Support Tools Server with different levels of security to control both access to the dashboard and the ability to use specific tools once logged in.
The Cisco Support Tools suite includes the full set of standard diagnostic tools as well as the capability to:
• Interrogate individual Support Tools nodes for their hardware and operating system, Cisco component, and third-party product information
• View, start, and stop services running on Support Tools nodes
• Compare and synchronize registry settings from different Support Tools nodes
• Pull logs from most Cisco IPCC and IP telephony nodes, including Cisco ICM, Cisco Computer Telephony Integration Object Server (CTI OS), Cisco Web Collaboration Option, Cisco E-Mail Manager Option, Cisco IPCC Express Edition, Cisco Customer Voice Portal, and Cisco CallManager
• Perform enhanced time-synchronized merged logs across servers
The Cisco Support Tools suite uses a client-server architecture to support the distributed, fault-tolerant architecture of Cisco ICM and IPCC Enterprise and Hosted Editions. The components of this client-server architecture are a Cisco Support Tools Server and Cisco Support Tools Node.
Figure 1. Cisco Support Tools Dashboard
CISCO SUPPORT TOOLS SERVER
It is recommended that the Cisco Support Tools Server be installed on a system that has limited or no performance load, such as a standalone network server or a client Cisco ICM Administrative Workstation, for maximum efficiency.
To help ensure redundancy, the Cisco Support Tools Server can be installed on multiple systems. Major components of the Cisco Support Tools Server include:
• The Cisco Support Tools Dashboard-A browser-based interface that allows access to all Cisco Support Tools utilities
• Cisco Web Utilities-A set of system-management tools specifically designed for use with Cisco Support Tools
• The Cisco Support Tools Repository-A central storage location for files gathered and saved through Cisco Support Tools; these files can be downloaded, viewed, and used for system comparison or restoration
Note: Multiple installations of the Cisco Support Tools Server do not share a common repository; each will maintain its own instance.
CISCO SUPPORT TOOLS NODE AGENT
The Cisco Support Tools Node Agent serves as the client to the Cisco Support Tools Server. It is installed on each ICM node to be managed through Cisco Support Tools. Major components of the Cisco Support Tools Node include:
• The Node Agent Service-Used to accept connections from the Cisco Support Tools Server
• Command-line Versions of Cisco Web Utilities-Help enable these tools to be run from a node when access to the Cisco Support Tools Server is unavailable or otherwise impractical (for example, during a network outage)
• A Local Repository-Used to store saved and downloaded files when Cisco Support Tools utilities are run directly from a node (through a CLI) outside of the dashboard interface
CISCO SUPPORT TOOLS UTILITIES
The Cisco Support Tools suite includes more than 50 utilities to monitor, administer, and configure Cisco ICM and IPCC solutions on which the Support Tools Node is installed. Following are the utilities by category and details for each.
Cisco Web Utilities
The System Interrogate tool provides system information about the selected system on the Cisco Support Tools Web Dashboard. Data gathered can be viewed on the browser and also be saved to a file. Information is gathered and presented in the following categorized format:
• Operating system and hardware
• Cisco ICM node information
• Third-party products
The Registry Compare tool provides Windows Registry information for a Cisco ICM or IPCC Node on the Cisco Support Tools Web Dashboard. Registry information can either be viewed on the browser or saved to a file. In addition, this tool helps enable users to compare the ICM Windows registry settings between:
• The current system and another system
• The current system and a registry file stored in the Cisco Support Tools repository
• Two registry files in the repository
The Registry Compare tool also allows users to:
• Copy values from one system to another, or from a file to the current system
• Save a comparison to a file in the repository
Process and Service Explorer
The Cisco Process and Service Explorer tool provides information for a Cisco ICM or IPCC node on the Cisco Support Tools Web Dashboard and helps enable users to:
• View and terminate all the processes running on the current system
• Save a list of services and processes to a file
• View, start, and stop all services installed on the current system
The Cisco Log Collector Tool gathers logs from Cisco ICM and IPCC or related Cisco product nodes running the Cisco Support Tools Node. Multiple collected logs can be retrieved as separate files or merged into a single file to provide a consolidated, unified time-sorted view.
Products Supported for Log Collection
Cisco Support Tools collects logs from: Cisco ICM, Cisco CallManager, Cisco CTI OS, Cisco Agent Desktop, Cisco Web Collaboration Option, Cisco E-mail Manager Option, Cisco Media Blender, Cisco Customer Voice Portal, Cisco IPCC Express Edition, Cisco IP Interactive Voice Response, and Cisco IP Queue Manager.
Note: Cisco Support Tools does not collect logs from the desktop workstations; it only collects logs from servers.
The Log Collector Tool can create merged logs-a single log file that combines logs from different systems. Within a merged log, individual log entries are listed by date and time, providing the capability to track an individual call across different Cisco ICM systems.
There is no limit to the number of individual system logs that can be included in a single merged log file, however, larger logs will take longer to collect and create. A merged log collection can be downloaded as individual associated logs in addition to the merged log.
To create a merged log from different systems, the Cisco Support Tools Server and Node communicate with the same Simple Network Time Protocol (SNTP) server. Each Cisco Support Tools Node tracks deviation between the system clock and the network standard clock. This difference is used to adjust each log entry. Multiple logs are then merged into a single file to provide a consolidated, unified time-sorted view.
Cisco Support Tools Repository
For all of these tools, data collected is stored into the Cisco Support Tools Repository, which provides the ability to view, rename, delete, and download saved files.
Saved files can be the following types:
• System interrogate files
• Registry and registry comparison files
• Process and service files
Cisco Common Utilities
The Cisco Common Utilities are a collection of tools and utilities that exist on Cisco ICM and IPCC nodes as part of the installation. Most Cisco Common Utilities are CLI-based and can be run from either the Cisco Support Tools Dashboard or from an individual node. CLI access to individual nodes can be local or remote.
Third-Party Common Utilities
Third-Party Common Utilities are a set of Windows, DOS, and UNIX utilities, present on all or most Windows and Cisco ICM systems that may be useful when troubleshooting Cisco ICM components. The Cisco Support Tools Dashboard provides direct access to these utilities through the browser interface.
As contact centers continue to expand and upgrade services and applications to provide consumers with quality customer service they will continue to experience the costs associated with these upgrades as well as ongoing maintenance. To help defray the costs of these essential upgrades and to continue to provide the highest quality customer service on an ongoing basis, Cisco Systems® offers the Cisco Support Tools suite. By implementing the Cisco Support Tools suite, enterprise and service provider contact centers can offer cutting-edge customer service while keeping the cost of upgrades and maintenance in check-continuing the evolution toward a true Customer Interaction Network.