Cisco Takes Aim at SMB VoIP

Some have argued that there is a disconnect between SMBs and VoIP; Cisco is not one of them.

In fact, Cisco Systems is taking careful aim at the SMB market (and the mid-market) with its new Cisco Business Communications Solution, which was officially announced last week. With the new solution, Cisco is claiming that it is offering a full end-to-end solution that includes voice, switching, support, and even financing.

As part of the new initiative, Cisco is rolling out a new switch, the Cisco Catalyst 500 series, as a solution for SMB customers with 20 to 250 users, looking to deploy a converged network. The IP Communication Express suite includes Cisco Unity, which provides auto attendant and voice mail functions. Conferencing is handled by Cisco CallManager Express version 3.3, which can handle conferences for 20 to 96 users and includes call routing capabilities. As part of the overall effort to simply the VoIP experience for SMBs, GUI-based web tools are also part of the solution, courtesy of Cisco’s Network Assistant (CNA) 3.0.

Julie O’Brien, senior manager of product and technology marketing for Cisco IP Communications does not think that, to date, SMBs have “missed out” on the IP voice convergence revolution.

“SMBs are realizing that VoIP technologies have matured and are reducing costs, improving operating efficiencies, and increasing customer responsiveness for organizations of all sizes,” O’Brien told “Early SMB technology adopters have harnessed IP communications solutions as a way to grow and optimize their businesses, while gaining a competitive edge.”

Just because they’re SMBs doesn’t mean they want to be treated like second class customers.

“SMB customers tell us that they want many of the features Cisco offers in its enterprise products; they don’t want ‘stripped down’ versions that simply cost less,” O’Brien said. “They want the same levels of security and investment protection they would get from an enterprise class solution, priced and packaged for their needs.”

“They want products that are integrated, so they don’t have to ‘systems integrate’ a solution themselves, with features tailored for their needs such as ease of use and ease of management.”

O’Brien sees the Cisco Business Communications Solution as an industry first that is different from competitive products in that it delivers a total solution including integrated products and applications, services, support, and financing.

“Our job is to make it easier for small and medium-size customers to reap the benefits of technologies being enjoyed by larger enterprises,” O’Brien said. “And make it easier for our partners to care for customers throughout their entire lifecycle.”

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