Cisco Talks Up 'Telework'

Cisco Systems this week plans to launch a program to help partners sell secure "telework" solutions to small and midsize businesses.

The program, an expansion of the Cisco Mobile Office: At Home initiative, gives solution providers tools and training to effectively market telework solutions to their SMB clients and builds on a previous effort targeted at enterprise clients, said Surinder Brar, senior director of marketing for Cisco worldwide channels. The program takes the next logical step in Cisco's specialization program, allowing solution providers to leverage technical expertise gained in the security/ VPN, cable and DSL specializations to sell complete solutions, Brar added.

The program also includes a Web-based ROI calculator to help show the anticipated return on investment, said Kristine Stewart, director of market development for Cisco worldwide commercial marketing.

Cisco's telework offering includes a flexible architecture that lets employees access their corporate networks via cable, DSL or ISDN connections, Stewart said. The solution includes Cisco 800 series ADSL and ISDN routers or the Cisco uBR900 series cable router at employees' homes with support for firewall, VPN, quality of service and remote management, she said.

Jim Sommer, president of solution provider Xitech, Pittsburgh, said his customers are looking for a secure and manageable way to give employees home access to corporate networks. "In a project like this, with [VPN software clients you're going to spend a lot of support hours for a rollout," he said. "[By contrast, with hardware, you can ship the product to end users preconfigured, eliminating probably three-quarters of that support time."