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Cisco on Wednesday expanded its small business portfolio with several new products and services, including energy-efficient unmanaged switches, a VPN firewall designed for small business use, and a new training resource for VARs, dubbed Cisco Small Business University.
Small business recovery has started to "turn the corner," said Andrew Sage, vice president of worldwide small business sales. That means the time for Cisco partners to capitalize on growing SMB opportunities is immediate, and it's necessary to approach SMBs with more tools at VARs' disposal, including Cisco's recent three-year, zero-percent financing plan for SMBs through Cisco Capital.
Those will be the key messages around small business sales at this month's Cisco Partner Summit in San Francisco, Sage explained.
"They're slower to come out of the recession and they're a little more cautious to invest and hire, but they're starting to come around," he said. "Small businesses are looking to do more with what they've got, and we're also seeing small businesses looking more at technology to run all of the aspects of their business. That makes them look better to their customers, but also it gives them a tech-centric environment to attract new workers -- millennials and Gen-Xers who are already familiar with that tech infrastructure."
Among Wednesday's product debuts are Cisco 100 Series Switches, unmanaged units that promise faster Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity for small business offices, and the Cisco RV 120W Wireless-N VPN Firewall, offering 802.11n wireless access and segmentation capabilities for guest access and access to files and applications.
The various switches list at $57 to $413 and are currently available through Cisco VARs, Sage said, and the Firewall is in $189 and also available.
Additional new products include two service provider platforms, the Cisco SRP 526W and 527W ADSL2+ premises devices. Both are part of Cisco's SPR 500 Series, and are priced at $300 each.
Elsewhere, Cisco is also launching Small Business University, a Web-based resource center where partners can download sales and marketing tools for use with small business sales, as well as learn, via written materials and video tutorials, about skill sets for selling to businesses with 100 or fewer employees, how to match Cisco products to particular opportunities in SMB.
The University also includes Small Business Technical Labs, an e-learning resource through which partners can view on-demand training sessions for Cisco offerings, or be led by an instructor.
According to Sage, it was one of the most requested resources by Cisco VARs.
"We're constantly talking to our partners and they want advice and training," Sage said of the University. "We've distilled a lot of the best practices into a solutions-selling approach, and the Technical Labs, where a small business partner can reserve time in a virtual laboratory and be walked through, are going to be really important for the technically-minded folks in our resellers."
Cisco has further added French- and German-language versions of its Small Business Support Communities, 24-hour-a-day SMB support services currently available in English and Spanish.