Collaboration Commitment? Cisco SMB Partners Not Feeling The Love


Cisco SMB partners jolted by the demise of the UC500 and BE3000 are eagerly awaiting word from Cisco on a direct replacement for those products.

In the meantime, many are wondering whether Meraki, Cisco's cloud-based Wi-Fi, routing and security solution, will become Cisco's go-to SMB offering.  

"Meraki is an example of Cisco investing in SMB," said Neal Morgan, vice president of sales at Special Order Solutions (SOS), a Loomis, Calif.-based solution provider and Cisco partner selling into both the SMB and enterprise market. "It's an inexpensive wireless, but also firewall, switch and access point solution. These are cloud-based products, and they offer advanced features and capabilities, but are extremely easy to deploy and support."

Morgan noted that he will definitely be "faced with some challenges" when his legacy UC500 customers start asking about upgrade options, but that he is confident, overall, in Cisco's SMB strategy.

The president of one Cisco solution provider, who asked not to be named, also said Meraki has been an ideal fit for smaller-size customers and is helping to offset some of the pain caused by the discontinuation of the UC500 and BE3000.

"We're very disappointed about [the UC500 and BE3000], but maybe [Cisco] will pull some magic out of its hat," said the partner. "But we're still selling the heck out of Meraki. It's probably our No. 1 sale right now, and it's right in our wheelhouse of managed services."

The CEO of the Silver Cisco partner also said he wouldn't be surprised to see Meraki, or some other hosted platform, emerge to take the place of the UC500 and BE3000.

"I'm hoping that there is some deep, dark strategy, and that [Cisco] will roll out some hosted cloud and voice system, maybe on the Meraki platform, that will fill that void," the partner said. "But I think it would have been helpful for [Cisco] to have announced that strategy at the same time they end-of-lifed those products. I know a lot of partners that are very upset and don't know where they're going to go." 

PUBLISHED MARCH 5, 2014