Cisco Expands SMB Push With New Offerings

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Cisco continues to chase the SMB sector after expanding its small business portfolio with new networking, security and collaboration solutions

Cisco is working hard during the economic downturn to broaden its appeal to the SMB sector after expanding its small business product portfolio and offering new financing programs.

On the security side, Cisco announced expanded capabilities in the Cisco Configuration Assistant, which enable the Cisco SPA 525G IP Phone to receive and display live video streaming from Cisco Small Business security cameras. The SPA 525G IP Phone is listed at $430 (£259), with regional variations, and is currently available in most countries. The company has also introduced VPN capability on the phone.

Enhancements have also been made to Cisco’s SA 500 Series security appliances, designed to help protect a small business’s network and critical data, while at the same time allowing employees to connect to the business network. These include an intrusion prevention system (IPS) to help monitor the network for malicious or unwanted activities and automatically block or prevent those activities; ProtectLink Gateway to block attacks through a hosted service that integrates anti-spam, anti-phishing, content filtering and web reputation monitoring; and ProtectLink Endpoint to extend protection to Windows PCs and prevent users from accessing the Internet if their security levels are not up-to-date. Pricing starts at $550 (£331), depending on the model.

“Over the past year, Cisco has demonstrated that it is 100 percent committed to the small business market,” said Gia McNutt, president and CEO of Special Order Systems, a voice and data solutions firm. “Most enterprise-focused companies have produced mini-versions of products for small businesses, but not in this case. Cisco has built solutions specifically for the small business market, which has helped partners like me solve my customers’ business issues. Cisco has also created services and incentives to help me be successful and more profitable in the small business market.”

Cisco also continued to invest in partner profitability programs and financing offers, including The Small Business Partner Development Fund (PDF) program, which provides quarterly payments to qualifying partners based on their purchases of Cisco Small Business products. It is open to various partner types selling into the small business market, including Cisco Registered Partners, Cisco Specialized Partners, online resale partners and service providers.

In the United States, Cisco Capital is providing zero-percent financing of Cisco Unified Communications and Small Business Pro Series solutions for small businesses. This offer has been extended through July 2010, with terms of 36 months same-as-cash and the option to take ownership of the equipment at the end of the lease.

“We’re proud of our accomplishments this past year and are extremely focused on continuing to build and deliver the right technologies, services and support, and profitability programs to help our partners and small business customers accelerate their business as the economy recovers,” said Cisco Small Business Council co-chair Ian Pennell.

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