1. Content – By content, I am referring to the sheer magnitude of categories in which users can ask questions, search for previous posts, and/or simply participate in discussions. Some of the high-level categories include Network Infrastructure, Wireless, Service Providers, Data Center, Collaboration, Voice, and Video, Security, and the list goes in. Now keep in mind, each primary category has a number of subcategories as well. In short, the content is vast and easily navigated.
2. Resources – By resources, I am referring to the types of people that respond to posts and provide answers and/or input to technical questions. Yes, some of those resources include some of us here at NetCraftsmen but there are other very notable resources such as Rob Huffman, Jon Marshall, Aaron Harrison, Jonathan Schulenberg, and the list goes on. Take a look at both the Hall of Fame members and the VIP inductees and you’ll see that this group of regular contributors comprises years of technical experience in various fields and we all participate in these forums for free. We don’t get paid for this. It’s not part of our jobs. It’s a passion. Even the casual posters come to CSC because they want to help or share an experience they recently experienced. It’s a great homegrown community.
3. Cisco Participation – It’s not just partners and other posters that help out on CSC. A number of the participants work directly for Cisco and a number even work for TAC. So, when it’s time for quick links and bona fide answers on whether something is supported or not – Cisco has you covered. I’ve been involved in a number of discussions with Jeff Lindborg and other well-known Cisco resources. Sometimes, I was asking the questions and others I was adding to the post. So you’ve got great resources in addition to Cisco participation…that’s a win, win to me.
4. Wealth of Knowledge – There is a wealth of knowledge on CSC. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve gone to CSC to find out data on a specific topic and it was already there – no post required on my part. Likewise, in doing research I can often come across any number of experiences posted by other users that help me in my job. Beyond that, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve opened a TAC case since I started using CSC. Honestly, I always tried to avoid opening TAC cases prior to that (primarily due to pride) but I’ve found that sometimes opening a TAC case is the most efficient way to solve a problem. However, my first resource is now CSC. If I can’t find a match on an issue there, I may go the TAC route, but the wealth of knowledge on CSC is deep.
5. Free – Yes, as I mentioned above it’s free. Not only do members of CSC participate for free but the resource itself is free. You don’t need a Cisco Support Contract. You don’t need ESW or SmartNet or whatever term you want to call it. The Cisco Support Community is a free resource for all that use Cisco. It’s both a great way to solve problems as well as to learn about various topics/issues that are occurring today. Free with no catches…it’s hard to argue with that.