The new products -- an email security appliance, desktop network-attached storage, and updates to Cisco's Smart Business Commmunications System -- are the first fruit of Cisco's Small Business Technology Group, formed last November.Cisco created the The SBTG to focus on companies with fewer than 100 employees, and it's pulling together technology from various parts of Cisco and Linksys. But these are first brand new products released by the group.
The Cisco Spam and Virus Blocker is an appliance intended to help companies with 50 - 250 users be just as protected as large enterprises, without the hassle and expense. According to Monday, installation is simple, and then will need no more attention for the length of the contract, from 1 to 3 years.
Mark Monday, vice president of Cisco's small business solutions business unit, said the Cisco product leverages technology from the company's IronPort acquisition, and employs the full list of virus definitions used by enterprise systems. The only difference is that "it's scaled in performance to get the price right for small business."
Monday said the Cisco device is priced similarly to Barracuda, but carries the VB100 logo and "leverages the expertise and knowledge from some of the biggest networks in the world to stop spam and viruses." Rather than open source code, Monday said, Cisco uses Cinder-based data.
The Cisco Spam and Virus Blocker is available now for $2,599 to $5,399, depending on the number of users and subscription length.
Release 1.4 of the Cisco Smart Business Communications System includes a new Cisco 520 Series Secure Router and my favorite, the Cisco SPA525G Wireless IP Phone. Not only does the new phone not require an RJ-11 connection, it also includes a Bluetooth connection so you can use your cellphone's Bluetooth headset instead of those crappy wired headsets that most everyone is stuck with at the office. Heck, even if you can't afford the $430 phone for your whole team, it might be nice for business owners and other key execs who spend a lot of time on the phone. Oh, and did I mention that it also includes a USB port and will play MP# music files and view JPG pictures? As Monday put it: "I can do all these things with my cellphone, why not with my office phone?" Monday added that he expects Bluetooth to eventually become mainstream in office phones. (I can't wait for that...)
The NSS2000 and NSS3000 Network Storage Systems, meanwhile, add desktop form factors to Cisco's rack-mounted storage lineup. Prices start at $595 and the units are available with and without drives, do businesses can configure them however they like.
Finally, Cisco's SBTG is also unveiling its Small Business Support Center, designed to offer help to both VARs and end users. The center includes US-based help lines, and a support "community" complete with social networking features.