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Cisco recently released a new suite of wireless network products that target small and midsize businesses. These products provide competitive solutions for channel partners to extend their reach into the SMB market.

The new lineup includes updated management software with enterprise-class features, indoor and outdoor wireless access points targeting a range of small business applications, and a wireless LAN controller. The wireless access solution answers three of the biggest wireless challenges of SMBs: price, performance and complexity.

Cisco said the new suite of products isn’t a stripped-down version of a more expensive deployment. It includes enterprise-class features and functionality.

“We want to take the innovation that Cisco has built into all of its access points and wireless technology and apply it to the SMB deployments,” said Bill Rubino, product marketing manager for Cisco’s Enterprise Mobility Solutions. “We see businesses using more devices and more applications; whether they are a large enterprise or small business, they are affected by the change and growth in wireless.

“But it affects those small to medium-size deployments in a slightly different way. They may not have a large IT staff, or their IT staff may not have a lot of expertise, so they need a solution that is simple and easy to manage without having a Ph.D. in wireless. It also has to be low cost and high performance.”

For channel partners, the new suite of products extends their sales reach into the SMB market with enterprise-class features coupled with a price point for small to midsize customers. It also gives them new service opportunities with Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) cloud solution, and it integrates with Apple Fast Lane.

Cisco is also offering a sales incentive for partners through a new Account Breakaway promotion that gives discounts on new wireless products. Available to Cisco Select, Premier and Gold partners, the program offers up to a 60 percent discount on the latest routing, switching and wireless solutions.

With the new suite of products, Cisco takes the core feature set of the enterprise market and delivers it in a product set that gives functionality to the midmarket without having to pay a premium, said Kent MacDonald, vice president, business development at Long View Systems, an IT services and solutions company. “It makes it more competitive with the other players in the commercial market from a price value.”

MacDonald also expects significant service opportunities—particularly from the CMX engine and the number of customers who will view it as a value offering. “There might be less services per site, but more clients will see it as the right investment choice,” he explained. “It’s also an opportunity to go to every midmarket customer you’ve dealt with that may have older generation Cisco or competitor products.”

Fast Deployment of Wireless Products

At the heart of the new solution is the updated management software, Cisco Mobility Express, which enables SMBs to quickly deploy Cisco wireless products. Cisco incorporated its enterprise-class advanced features into Mobility Express based on how large enterprise networks typically use them. These configurations are “on by default,” so SMBs only need to enable them.

Mobility Express supports up to 100 access points and up to 2,000 clients. It also embeds the intelligence features of a Cisco WLAN controller into the access points, and supports the latest 802.11ac Wave 2 standards. Cisco’s Rubino said it can be configured in less than 10 minutes with limited IT skills.

Mobility Express also integrates Cisco’s Connected Mobile Experience (CMX) cloud solution, which provides WiFi guest access for businesses such as hotels, motels and shopping centers. It enables guest onboarding, while offering businesses the capability to analyze visitor behavior through presence analytics, or to engage with customers for a better personal experience. It also offers application visibility and control so SMBs understand which applications are running on their networks.

Cisco also released two new families of enterprise-class wireless access points and a new wireless LAN controller. The Aironet 1815 Series Access Point for indoor use targets a variety of applications, including educational organizations, hospitality and remote workers, while the Aironet 1540 Series is designed for outdoor environments, such as outdoor shopping malls, truck stops and outdoor campuses.

The 3504 Wireless LAN controller allows SMBs to add more access points as they grow, enabling companies to keep the access points they already have in their networks.