Cisco has made it much easier for engineers to properly account for costs when evaluating alternatives and options. They’ve published a very extensive list of product part numbers and retail pricing.
The standard way to estimate pricing on larger items (like routers) involves a long and arduous back-and-forth with a Cisco reseller. The reseller does help by configuring the proper combination of parts, but the turnaround time of hours or or days can be a real deterrent to using Cisco.
The job of the sales team should be to help evaluate what I need, propose good solutions, and then answer the questions that aren’t already answered in online documentation. Amazingly for Cisco, they don’t really make it easy to even contact a sales team. I’m often in the role of recommending Cisco (or other manufacturer) equipment to folks, but Cisco doesn’t give me any way to have a chat with a competent sales rep.
Cisco, Juniper, Foundry and others should follow Dell’s and IBM’s model of giving pricing instantly, online, with a smart configuration tool. But this move by Cisco, publishing the MSRP pricing online, is an excellent first start. It will help us engineers and designers know much more rapidly what cost-effective alternatives exist.