Cisco Beefs Up Unified Communications for SMBs

By Jessica Davis  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

The networking giant unveils enhancements to its unified communications platform for the masses.

Looking to fill out its Cisco Smart Business Communications System, on Nov. 5 Cisco Systems announced a suite of additions and updates to the platform , including expanding the number of users it can accommodate.

When first unveiled in April at its partner conference, the system could support eight or 16 users. With the update, the system is now able to support 32 or 48 users.

"The challenge with the 16-user version is that most people don't like to buy to capacity," said Rick Moran, Cisco's vice president of SMB solutions marketing. "So partners could only talk to customers with 14 people or less."

While the hardware is slightly more expensive, the cost per user remains about the same, Moran said. The larger model is rack-mountable, compared with the base unit, which is a desktop device measuring 2 by 8 by 12 inches.

Cisco created the Smart Business Communications System to bring the core functions of unified communications to the masses—small and midsize businesses. It offers voice, data, video, security and wireless capabilities, and it integrates with existing desktop applications such as calendar, e-mail and CRM.

Other expansions to the offering include technical services specifically for SBCS and the addition of four new Ethernet switches.

Cisco is offering its SmartNet service for SBCS through channel partners, providing customers with around-the-clock direct access via telephone or the Web to Cisco engineers for help with configuration, problem diagnosis and recommendations.

The new Ethernet switches include 24 10/100 access ports with POE (power over Ethernet); four 10/100 access ports with PoE and 20 10/100 access ports; 24 ports of Gigabit Ethernet; and 24 10/100 access ports.

In addition, Cisco has added new features to help make it easier to deploy the Cisco 521 Wireless Express Access Point and Cisco 526 Wireless Express Mobility Controller. They include an easy-to-set-up guest access portal; automatic policy configuration for voice, data and guest access; simplified security setup with preset low, medium and high security options; and integration with Cisco Configuration Assistant.

The San Jose, Calif., company said it has also beefed up its Cisco Monitor Director. The network management tool, which enables Cisco channel partners to offer outsourced, multicustomer, 24-hour network management services, now scales to enable monitoring of up to 100 managed customers. The tool now also offers support for any SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol)-capable and IP-addressable device.

Jessica Davis covers the channel for eWeek and Channel Insider. Her technology journalism career began well before anyone heard of the World Wide Web and has included stints at Infoworld, Electronic News/EDN, and the Philadelphia Business Journal. Her work has also appeared on CNN and Forbes.com. She has covered hardware, software and networking, as well as the business side of technology. She has won several journalism awards, including a national ASBPE award for best staff-written column, and was named Marketing Computers hardest working tech journalist on their inaugural list of top tech journalists. Jessica can be reached at jessica.davis@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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