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Cisco is working to make video and unified communications a more attractive proposition for small businesses, predicting that in just a few years 90 percent of network load will come from video applications. That means a big opportunity for partners, who now have the option to resell technology such as WebEx, rather than just refer leads to Cisco, and are getting more options to bring down costs for small business customers.

 “We think video is the new voice. We think video is going to become the default method of communication,” said Barry O’Sullivan, senior vice president of the voice technology group at Cisco Systems.

With an increased focus on unified communications and collaboration technologies and solutions, Cisco’s plan is for every endpoint it ships to be video-enabled, and according to O’Sullivan, the company is getting closer to achieving that dream. Cisco announced two new IP phones last week that are video-enabled, and the price point didn’t change from the prior voice-only versions. The company now has a variety of video communications modes, from the three-screen telepresence room setups down to desktop video software and the Cius tablet, he said.

“It’s pervasive video. That’s the way we’re thinking about it. And there’s a big opportunity there for partners, too, because they’re going to have make sure networks are ready for video. I think there’s an opportunity for partners to help customers get ready for it, plan for it and make sure it’s a good experience.”

O’Sullivan recently echoed Cisco’s chairman and CEO John Chambers’ comments during his keynote speech at the Cisco Partner Summit in New Orleans last month. As Chambers explained during his presentation, video is the fifth top priority for Cisco. Although video got downplayed a bit in favor of discussions about cloud computing and a change from a focus on solutions to a focus on architectures, Chambers noted that video is going to be responsible for 90 percent of network loads by 2014.

“It’s going to fundamentally change the way we communicate, the way we develop products, the way we go to market,” Chambers said.