Cisco Gear Targets SMBs

Making good on its CEO’s pledge to aggressively pursue small and medium business (SMB) market, Cisco has introduced several local area network hardware and software products to make deploying advanced features cheaper and easier.

They include: the Catalayst 4500 Supervisor Engine II-Plus; Catalyst 4500 48-port 10/100/1000 Module; Catalyst 4500 Access Gateway Module (AGM) enhancements, and fixed configuration Catalyst 2970 and 2940 series switches.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco also unveiled Express Setup, a new tool that provides a simplified switch installation.

In addition to the SMB sector, the offerings will be targeted at the education market. Both areas have become important to networking equipment makers in recent years as large corporate customers have delayed or cancelled major orders because of the economic slump.

Among the early users of the new switches is Wake County Schools District in Raleigh, N.C. The district is using Cisco gear for wired and wireless Internet access for its 127 schools. It also plans to eventually add Internet protocol phone service onto the system.

“With more than 2.5 million Web requests per hour, our job is to remove barriers to give students controlled access to learning resources,” said Vass Johnson, the district’s networking director. “The common interface and centralized management of Cisco products offer improved total cost of ownership.

Earlier this month, Cisco CEO John Chambers said the company is boosting efforts to woo SMB customers, believing they will start spending on technology before enterprises.

Cisco has a three-pronged strategy (marketing, acquisitions, partnerships) for winning SMB business, which generates 20 percent to 30 percent of its revenue. Overall, the market for SMB networking gear is about $6.6 billion, Cisco estimates. The company owns about 42 percent of the market, it said.

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