Cisco Raises SMB Commitment to New Level

Marking the next major evolution of its small and medium-sized business (SMB) strategy, Cisco has introduced Cisco Smart Business Communications System for small businesses and Select Certification, an entry-level certification for channel partners with a primary focus on the SMB market.

“Cisco’s success is built on listening to customers and partners to capitalize on market transitions. Three years ago they asked us to transform our SMB strategy in order to better address their specialized needs,” said John Chambers, chairman and CEO, Cisco. “Today we are the network leader in the SMB market. As we continue to raise the bar in terms of our investments in and offerings to SMBs, we believe we are uniquely positioned to deliver the total communications experience they require.”

The Smart Business Communications System builds on Cisco’s momentum in the SMB market. Channel partners seeking to enhance their profitability, remain more competitive and improve customer relationships can take advantage of the system’s management tools to simplify setting up, configuring and monitoring customer networks, thereby gaining opportunities for new service offerings with recurring revenue streams.

A New Way of Communicating for Small Businesses

Cisco says the simple, complete and highly secure Smart Business Communications System helps enable anytime anywhere access to information and provides efficient methods of communicating with customers and employees to help improve service and increase business agility. The system employs new hardware products, integrated unified communications applications and system-management tools designed to complement each other and provide communication building blocks for small businesses. The system includes the following new products:

Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series, powered by Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express and Cisco Unity Express. This platform supports the portfolio of Cisco Unified IP Phones, including the softphone Cisco IP Communicator, Internet connectivity with firewall protection, virtual private networks (VPNs), and wireless LAN access for reliable, highly secure communications. Combined with its optional desktop application support, Cisco Unified Communications 500 enables more effective collaboration by using simple yet powerful capabilities such as instant messaging, single-number reach, and desktop control of all calls and messages to help enrich the total communications experience.

Cisco Catalyst Express 520. This Power over Ethernet (PoE) switch easily expands the Smart Business Communications System’s Cisco Unified IP Phone and wireless LAN access point capacity to provide a security-enabled LAN optimized for highly secure access to information and collaboration applications.

Cisco Mobility Express Solution: Cisco 521 Wireless Express Access Point and Cisco 526 Wireless Express Mobility Controller. These additional key components of the Smart Business Communication System create a wireless network that dynamically optimize the radio coverage and help enable anytime, anywhere services.

Cisco Configuration Assistant, a component of the powerful system-management tools for the Smart Business Communication System. It takes advantage of the embedded Cisco Smart Assist technology to provide plug-and-play functionality for the system, reducing setup time and optimizing network settings. With its easy-to-use graphical user interface, this tool provides the breadth and depth to configure telephony, messaging, switching, wireless LAN, firewall, and security services, allowing partners and customers to quickly set up a small business network.

Cisco Monitor Director, a centralized proactive solutions-management tool for Cisco channel partners to offer multicustomer outsourced 24-hour network management services. It communicates with the Cisco Monitor Manager residing on a customer’s premises to provide comprehensive, real-time monitoring, alerting and reporting to help troubleshoot and fix issues remotely. Combining these management tools helps enable Cisco channel partners become trusted advisers to their customers.

The Cisco Smart Business Communications System integrates with existing desktop applications such as calendaring, e-mail, customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) to help improve customer service and business agility, which are hallmarks of competitive differentiation for SMBs.

Channel Partner Program Evolution: Introducing Select Certification and SMB Specialization

In addition to announcing it first new certification in more than 10 years, Cisco unveiled its first market segment specialization – SMB Specialization. These program enhancements will help accelerate growth and foster differentiation in the channel, by providing the tools, training and incentives that meet the needs of today’s SMB-focused partners.

The Select Certification is an entry point into the award-winning Cisco Channel Partner Program. Partners qualify for the Select Certification by meeting the training and exam requirements of the new SMB Specialization, which are designed to equip them with the sales and technical skills needed to deliver integrated network solutions to the SMB market. Benefits of the Select Certification include use of the Cisco Certified mark to validate SMB expertise; access to partner-development funds to assist them in generating demand, acquiring demonstration equipment and training; access to the new SMB OIP (Opportunity Incentive Program) that rewards partners who secure incremental business; specialized business and technical training built from the ground up for SMB, and a listing in the Cisco Partner Locator.

In the SMB market, customer financing is critical in fostering accelerated growth. Therefore, another certified partner benefit includes access to Cisco Capital’s Easy Lease program. Cisco channel partners in 19 countries have already taken advantage of Easy Lease and today Cisco confirmed the expansion of Easy Lease into 23 new countries including Austria, China, India, Ireland, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

“The introduction of the Select Certification will help us capitalize on a tremendous growth opportunity for our company,” said Erik Thiele, CEO of GES Gesellschaft für elektronische Systeme GmbH, a Cisco Registered Partner. “Not only can we provide our small-business customers with world-class communication solutions, but we now have access to an entirely new revenue stream, including a managed-service offering and access to specialized resources including training and marketing.”

Cisco Smart Business Communications System is scheduled to be available to partners through standard Cisco worldwide channels in June 2007.

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