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Cisco Expands Mid-Market IP Program

Building on last year's push to target specific enterprise markets, Cisco Systems Monday rolled out a new package of software, pricing, and financing for mid-sized (50- to 1000-employee) companies looking to build IP voice, video and data networks.

As part of a six-month promotion, the San Jose, Calif.-based computer-networking equipment maker is promoting its new IP Communications (IPC) suite. Cisco said the plan is best for those companies with small IT staffs that also rely heavily on resellers and integrators as trusted advisers and business partners. The new program also includes education, training and marketing tools for Cisco's channel partners.

"Last October Cisco announced its small and medium business strategy, focused on delivering Cisco expertise, solutions, and brand to our fast growing small and medium business customers with an emphasis on the new networking technologies of mobility, security and IP Communications," said Cisco VP of marketing Peter Alexander. "Today we are announcing the first part of the IPC strategy, which is intended to help SMB customers utilize networking solutions to improve the success of their business and help our partners shorten their sales cycle and increase profitability."

To get things rolling, Cisco beefed up its ICS 7750, an IP private branch exchange (PBX) chassis-based system for medium-sized companies and branch offices. The unit now internally supports Cisco Unity Unified Messaging v4.0, Cisco Customer Response Solution Software v3.0 and has doubled the product's analog- and digital-trunking capacities. The ICS 7750 has support for voice packages that let businesses install a small-site IPC system, which has the capacity to grow to a multiple-site network.

The company also unveiled its new Cisco ICS 7750-EV Voice (digital E1 public switched telephone network (PSTN) trunking) and the Cisco ICS 7750-BV Voice (ISDN Basic Rate Interface (BRI) PSTN trunking) packages. For an entry-level price of $14,995, each package includes the latest version of Cisco CallManager, Cisco Unity Voice Messaging and Cisco Auto Attendant. Each package can be upgraded to support up to 500 users and a multiple applications.

For companies choosing a centralized call management design, Cisco is now offering a revised Survivable Remote Site Telephony (SRST) package. Version 2.1 adds additional international language support for Italian, Spanish, German, and French. In addition, Cisco has cut the price for its 1700 and 2600 series platforms. For example, the Cisco 1760-V-SRST is $2,995, and the Cisco 2651XM-V-SRST is now $6,595.

To help with educating those mid-sized business, Cisco added a ICS 7750 Installation and Configuration Remote Lab to the existing set of IPC remote learning tools. The course is a Web-based training program that teaches the configuration, installation and maintenance of the ICS 7750 and is linked to Cisco specializations and certification programs. The e-learning course is $195 and the remote lab is $300.

And if those mid-sized companies are having problems paying for all this equipment and support, Cisco launched a new IP Communications Financing program. The five-year plan is part of Cisco's Capital Operating Lease for Cisco IP Communications solutions.