Cisco tackles SMB market

Summary:Cisco has launched in Australia a new suite of products aimed at countering what it acknowledges is a lack of strength in the local small to medium business (SMB) market.The company's local managing director Ross Fowler admitted Cisco had previously tried to bridge its SMB "product gap" with lower pricing on high-end products.

Cisco has launched in Australia a new suite of products aimed at countering what it acknowledges is a lack of strength in the local small to medium business (SMB) market.

The company's local managing director Ross Fowler admitted Cisco had previously tried to bridge its SMB "product gap" with lower pricing on high-end products.

"We've really suffered in Australia and New Zealand, because this [the SMB dollar] is the sweet spot of the market", he said. Fowler said the new products were the closest his company had gotten to the lowest end of the networking market under the Cisco brand. Its subsidiary Linksys operates in the home networking space, but under its own name.

"We believe our market share is quite low in this area," Fowler told ZDNet Australia, adding Cisco wasn't used to such a situation as it had high market share in other market segments.

He said he believed the convergence between data and voice products currently happening in large enterprises was on the verge of hitting the small business world.

The new product line is dubbed the 'Cisco Business Communications Solution'. At the lowest end of the market, it will target businesses with between 20 and 250 employees, utilising Cisco's new Catalyst Express 500 switch.

The switch is optimised for wireless and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, according to a statement from the company. To go with the hardware, Cisco has also released updates to its CallManager Express and Cisco Unity Express software applications, which run on its embedded IOS platform.

CallManager provides call processing for the company's IP phones, while Unity integrates voice mail and auto attendant services.

Central to Cisco's local strategy to sell the solution will be its partnership with local distributor Ingram Micro -- a partnership which Fowler said had been renewed last May.

In line with that play, the company will provide software tools to allow its resellers to aid SMBs in configuring their new hardware. Additional sweeteners will include financial incentives to resellers for successfully implementing the new SMB product line in a customer environment.

For larger customers with 250-1,000 employees, Cisco announced a host of applications based around configuring IP-based voice and data communications, running on the company's existing hardware.

The company also today announced the availability of its Catalyst 2960 series of switches, which target security, Quality of Service and multicast services at customers of the same size.

Renai LeMay travelled to the Networkers conference on the Gold Coast as a guest of Cisco.

Topics: Unified Comms, Cisco, Networking, SMBs

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