Cisco's SMB Goods

The new products, along with routers launched earlier this month, are among the first of 30 SMB-focused products Cisco has pledged to roll out over the next year.

The products will help bring advanced VoIP and security feature sets from Cisco's midrange products downstream to smaller customers, Cisco executives said.

In a move that decreases the entry price point for Cisco's modular switching platform by about 30 percent, the vendor is rolling out this week a new Supervisor engine and four new modules for its Catalyst 4503 three-slot chassis.

"If you're out shopping for a switch with this kind of density, this is giving you an option with all [of these] rich features as opposed to just buying a Netgear [product] or whatever, or a stackable [switch] that does not have the nonblocking aspects of this switch," said Peter Alexander, vice president of worldwide commercial marketing at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

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Unlike existing Supervisor options, which typically include two Gigabit ports for uplink to an enterprise's network core, the new Supervisor II-Plus-TS engine offers 20 Gigabit ports, giving small customers more deployment flexibility, said John McCool, vice president and general manager of Cisco's Gigabit systems business unit.

The new Supervisor offering increases the density of the Catalyst 4503 to 116 ports, up from 98 ports. Cisco also is introducing 24-port versions of its most popular 10/100, 10/100 Power over Ethernet (PoE) and 10/100/1000 PoE line cards, as well as a six-port 10/100/1000 PoE or Small Form-factor Pluggable (SFP) card.

And the vendor is rolling out the new Catalyst 4948, a wire-speed 48-port 10/100/1000 aggregation switch that includes security features such as prevention of man-in-the-middle attacks and spoofing, McCool said.

Rounding out the launch is Cisco Network Assistant, a free Web-based management tool that simplifies the use of advanced features such as security and Quality of Service previously only accessible via command-line interface.

Jeff Roback, vice president of engineering at solution provider Praxis Computing, Los Angeles, said smaller customers typically don't have the technical resources to access such features on their own and therefore don't realize the full value of the equipment.

"If they can [fully] use them, they're a lot more interested in buying them," Roback said.

The Catalyst 4503 Supervisor is slated to ship next month for $5,995. The 24-port line cards are shipping now, starting at $2,495. The Catalyst 4948 is shipping now for $13,495.