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LAS VEGAS—Cisco Systems, with the help of channel partners, on April 3 sought to extend its voice over IP reach to the smallest businesses with a new integrated IP telephony and networking offering.

At its Cisco Partner Summit, the San Jose, Calif., company launched the new Cisco Smart Business Communication System. To help its partners better reach small businesses, Cisco created a new partner certification program and specialization for selling to small businesses.

The new Select Certification provides partners with access to partner development funds, demonstration equipment and a new Opportunity Incentive Program aimed at small and midsize businesses.

As part of the new system, Cisco launched new hardware-based offerings, including the new Unified Communications 500 Series. The 500 Series runs Cisco’s Unified Communications Manager Express and Cisco Unity Express software, and it provides Internet access with firewall support, VPN and wireless LAN access.

Optional collaboration software provides instant messaging, single-number reach and desktop-based management of calls and messages.

The SBCS works with Cisco’s line of IP phones including the Cisco IP Communicator soft phone.

Other new hardware for the SBCS includes the Cisco Catalyst 520 Power over Ethernet switch, and for WLAN connectivity the Cisco 521 Wireless Express Access Point and Cisco Wireless Express Mobility Controller.

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To simplify deployment of the new offerings for both partners and their small business customers, Cisco introduced the new Cisco Configuration Assistant, a free program that uses a graphical user interface to step users and partners through simplified configuration of the telephony, messaging, switching, WLAN, firewall and security settings.

Cisco also launched new monitoring and remote troubleshooting software to give partners new service opportunities with a recurring revenue stream.

The new Cisco Monitor Director and Cisco Monitor Manager work together to allow channel partners to monitor multicustomer networks. The Cisco Monitor Manager sits on-site at the customer premises to provide remote monitoring, alerting and reporting for remote troubleshooting.

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