Cisco plots out SMB plans

Cisco has unveiled a new communications bundle designed to capture a greater share of business in the current market sweet spot - SMB.

The Cisco Business Communications Solution includes services, support, financing and new SMB-class switches, applications and XML-enabled IP phones.

The bundle, which also includes updated versions of the vendor's CallManager Express and Unity Express tools, has been designed to help resellers target businesses with 20-250 users.

Despite having about 19 per cent of the enterprise IP telephony market, according to Frost and Sullivan, the vendor had not been able to transfer this success to SMB, vice-president A/NZ, Ross Fowler, said.

"We have really suffered in not having a dedicated offering as SMB is the real sweet spot in this market," he said. "SMBs have gone with consumer products and have sacrificed things like security and quality of service. Now there is an opportunity to use Cisco products instead."

While the products themselves had been simplified to the point where a whole IP telephony system could be set up in under two hours, service and support margin opportunities were still attractive to resellers, Fowler said.

"Some SMBs could set this up itself but many don't have dedicated IT staff," he said. "As it's simpler and quicker than the enterprise version, partners have more time to do higher volumes or offer other value-adds like applications."

According to Fowler, the imminent launch of the bundle was a major driver behind the company's recent shake up of its distribution arrangements.

"For the last year we have been setting the channel and distributors up to target SMB with the knowledge these new products were in the pipeline," he said. "Our decision to bring back Ingram Micro was the most important move to facilitate that."

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