Cisco Enhances SMB Offerings

By Colin C. Haley

September 27, 2004

The network gear giant brings its Catalyst switch family to a customer group with growing clout.

Cisco Systems has modified its Catalyst switching products to help small and medium-sized businesses deploy converged data, voice and video networks.

The offerings, announced today, include entry-level extensions to the Cisco Catalyst 4500 Series of modular switches for integrated connectivity to servers, wireless access points, IP phones, printers or users.

In addition, the company unveiled the Cisco Network Assistant to provide centralized management of network maintenance and deployment, along with Catalyst 4948 fixed switches that are optimized for server aggregation.

"[SMB] staff and budgets are struggling to keep pace with the demands on their networks," Jim Browning, vice president with the research firm Gartner, said in a statement. "SMBs need ways to decrease the total cost of ownership of their networks while minimizing network staffing requirements."

Cisco, which has made its fortune from selling equipment to telecom carriers and large corporations, has been making a serious SMB push since April.

It has revisited networking hardware, software and services for SMBs with flexibility and scalability in mind. In all, Cisco, which competes with Juniper and Nortel among others, has earmarked about $2 billion over the next two years to support SMB programs.

The company reports that about 25 percent of its product revenue comes from deals with companies with between 20 and 1,000 users. A spokesman for San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco was not immediately available for comment.

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