Cisco SMB Pump-Up Continues: Switches, Firewalls, Storage

With an emerging class of SMB customer that's graduated beyond the basic level of SMB product needs but needs just-right capabilities and an agreeable price point, Cisco has been fine-tuning its portfolio to address individual sub-segments within SMB. According to Brad Sakai, senior product manager for Cisco's Small Business Technology Group, the new products fit in close to entry-level SMB product needs but don't lack sophistication.

First among the new releases is a series of managed Ethernet switches, the Cisco 200 Series Smart Switches, which come in nine models and range in capacity from 24 and 50 ports. In the Cisco Ethernet switch portfolio, they nestle between the Cisco 100 Series unmanaged switches, which were announced last year, and the more advanced 300-level switches.

Among other features, the 200s include Power-Over-Ethernet, a browser-based interface, smartports, advanced IPv6 capability and limited warranty. They're available now, and start at $287 a switch, depending on model.

Next is the Cisco RV220W, a network security firewall designed for small offices and the next version up of Cisco's RV120 line, sporting SSL VPN, IPSec, hybrid VPN and other capabilities, including optional Cisco ProtectLink for filtering by category and Web protection. List price is $363 and it's currently available in the U.S. and Canada, with Europe, Australia and New Zealand availability later in the quarter.

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Finally, Cisco confirmed an update to its six-month-old NSS300 Series Smart Storage product line, in that it will now offer optional, fully integrated data backup via Mozy, the online backup provider owned by Cisco strategic partner EMC. Cisco Smart Storage plans began at $913, and customers can activate 25 GB of Mozy online backup with that Smart Storage for $145 a year.

"Having offsite backup is really key these days," Sakai said. "I think a lot of small businesses see it as a little bit costly, though, and sometimes they're backing up probably a lot more than they need to."

Cisco doesn't provide the Mozy component to Smart Storage -- the customer deals directly with Mozy -- but channel partners can sell Mozy's service as part of the Cisco solution.

"People that know Cisco and resell Cisco have a certain expectation, so it makes sense to partner with someone with the same level of reputation and same regard," he said. "Mozy is an ideal partner. We talked to several, but it made sense from an overall Cisco relationship."

The product launch is the latest in an ongoing series of SMB-focused product releases following Cisco's $100 million investment in dedicated resources for SMB in 2008.

Cisco has continued to make strides in the SMB networking arena, copping CRN's Annual Report Card award for SMB networking hardware last year, and earning raves in the channel thanks to a three-year, zero-percent financing program for SMB deals under $250,000.

That program has since ended, but according to Cisco, it's continuing to offer a three-year, 3 percent financing program on deals up to $150,000.