Cisco Technical Assistance Center

By: Chris Bryant

The Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) is Cisco's tech support center, and they've got some very talented people working there.  Before you pick up the phone to call the TAC, though, you should do your best to resolve the problem and document each step along the way.  One of the first things the TAC will do is ask what you've done so far to resolve the issue, and giving them an accurate answer is a huge step toward getting the problem resolved.

If you're used to "tech support" where calls are prioritized by the order in which they come in, the TAC will open your eyes!  Cisco's TAC uses four priority levels to determine which cases should be handled first:

Priority 1:  The network is down, no workaround available, and business processes are at a critical stage.

Priority 2:  The network is badly degraded, business processes are impacted, and no workaround is possible.

Priority 3:  Network is degraded, but business processes are working for the most part.

Priority 4:  Basic support call for installation or configuration, or information on Cisco products.

Once you open a case with the TAC, you can check the status of your cases online with the Cisco TAC Case Query tool.  This is an interactive tool which allows you to update the status of the case from your end without placing additional phone calls to TAC.  It's also a faster way to let your TAC engineer know how your cases are proceeding.

Gather all the information you can BEFORE you call tech support.  Don't just pick up the phone without investigating the issue.

This goes double for opening TAC calls.  Some good practices to follow before calling TAC:

Document changes made before the issue arose.

Document changes made to configs AFTER the trouble occurred.

Document ping and traceroute results.

Make sure the log is large enough to keep errors and console messages that are resulting from the issue.

Depending on the technology, test everything you can before calling tech support.  For Frame Relay, for instance, check everything between your site and the DCE closest to the site. (Trust me, that's the first thing they're going to ask you to do.)  For ISDN, check the configurations carefullyComputer Technology Articles, and again check everything between your site and the provider.

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