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Cisco Simplifies Its Small Business Network Offerings

Selling advanced networking technology into the small and midsize business market can be a challenge. Smaller businesses want all of the features and capabilities that big companies want, but they don't have the money or IT staff to buy, manage, and support sophisticated, enterprise-scale products.

Networking leader Cisco Systems on Monday tries to address those issues by introducing packages of networking products, services, support, and financing custom-built for the small and midsize business markets. The company is introducing two packages; one designed for companies with 20 to 250 employees and one for businesses with 250 to 1,500 employees.

"Cisco never really had SMB products before," says Yankee Group analyst Zeus Kerravala. "They mainly offered smaller versions of their enterprise products. These new packages include a low-priced box and an easier to configure interface than they've ever offered before."

The Cisco Business Communications Solution system for small businesses includes the new Catalyst Express 500 switch, CallManager Express software for call routing, Unity Express software for voice mail and call distribution, Network Assistant software for network management, and IP phones. Together, the package is designed to make it easier for small business to implement a converged voice and data network.

For midsize companies, Cisco's Business Communications Solution packages include a variety of switches, routers, wireless gear, and a range of applications such as MeetingPlace Express for voice and Web conferencing, Mobile Connect to let users route calls to mobile and home phones, Unity Connection to create a browser-based integrated messaging system that includes voice mail, speech recognition, and automated attendant features, and a variety of tools for provisioning and managing the communications systems.

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