Anatomy of a virtual sales demo appliance for network management
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 sessions 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 customer 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
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 do not know what is running behind the
Many R&D and Quality Assurance departments already test network management applications
against MIMIC Simulator. They setup the simulator to provide predictable, repeatable,
regressionable 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
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