Cisco's SMB Offensive: 12 Notable Recent Releases

Cisco Eyes Small Wonders

Ever since making a $100 million investment in SMB-specific resources in 2008, Cisco has been continuing to expand its portfolio of products, services and financing options for small business sales, hoping to expand its SMB presence and bring along VARs that focus on the segment.

On Tuesday, Cisco went live with the latest additions to its SMB portfolio, including switches, firewalls and storage options.

Here's a look at those new products, as well as highlights from Cisco's small business release schedule from the past year.

January 2011: Cisco 200 Series Smart Switches

First among the new releases is Cisco's 200 Series Smart Switch line, which comes in 9 models and ranges in capacity between 24 and 50 ports. Power Over Ethernet is available on up to 48 ports of Fast Ethernet and 50 ports of Gigabit Ethernet, and all switches have embedded QoS intelligence, integrated network security features such as IEEE 802.1X port security, and native support for IPv6 alongside IPv4. The switches start at $287, depending on model.

January 2011: Cisco RV220W Firewall

The RV 220W 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.

January 2011: Mozy Back-Up For Cisco Smart Storage

Cisco will now offer optional, fully integrated data backup for its NSS300 Series Smart Storage line 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.

September 2010: Cisco 300 Series Managed Switches

Cisco refreshed its SMB-focused Ethernet switching lines with the 300 Series Managed Switches, which start at $217 and are designed with power savings and IPv6 support in mind. Connectivity options include Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet, and PoE is available on up to 48 ports of Fast and 24 ports of Gigabit on each model. Among other features, there are more ports per Gigabit Ethernet switch (28- and 52-port models instead of 20- or 44-port models with four shared ports), and 11 models have fanless designs to allow them to run quietly.

September 2010: Cisco SPA 300 Series And 525G2 Phones

The Cisco SPA 300 Series phones are entry-level, start at $83, and support Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series deployments. A higher-end model, the SPA 525G2, listed at $430, is a wireless- and Bluetooth-enabled phone with a USB port and call-transferring feature called Mobile Link, for use with mobile devices.

September 2010: Cisco Office Manager And Advance Video Monitoring

Among software releases in September were Office Manager, a free-to-download desktop administration tool for Cisco's Smart Business Communications System, and the Advanced Video Monitoring System, which for about $1,000 offers monitoring and analytics for small business video surveillance configurations of up to 64 cameras.

September 2010: Cisco VC 200 Video Cameras

Part of what Cisco's Andrew Sage described as the "increasing conversation" around IP-based video surveillance, Cisco began pushing two video cameras: the VC 220 Dome ($794) and the higher-end, weather-proof VC 240 Bullet ($921), designed for outdoor deployments.

June 2010: Cisco NSS 300 Appliance

Cisco's NSS 300 appliances are targeted at small businesses with fewer than 100 employees, and the three models in the series include two-bay, four-bay and six-bay models which, when configured with 2-TB hard drives, offer capacities of up to 12 TBs. Each protects data with built-in secure remote Web access and integrated encryption, along with a choice fo RAID 0, 1, 5 and 6. Prices range from $913 for a two-bay model with no hard drives to $5,625 for a six-bay model with six 2-TB hard drives.

April 2010: Cisco 100 Series Switches

The 100 Series Switches are Cisco's most basic professional-level Ethernet switches: unmanaged units that promise Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet connectivity for small business offices, listing at $57 to $413. The various models include port quantities of 5 to 24, wired connectivity and offer Ethernet, Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet.

April 2010: Cisco Small Business University

Cisco last year launched 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, including how to match Cisco products to particular SMB opportunities. The University also includes Small Business Technical Labs, an e-learning resource for on-demand or instructor-led training.

April 2010: Cisco SRP 500s

Part of Cisco's SRP 500 series of fixed-configuration customer premises equipment (CPE), last April's release brought two new service provider platforms, the Cisco SRP 526W and 527W ADSL2+ premises devices. Both are priced at $300 each, and include support for voice, data, security and application services, as well as a SIP stack and interoperability with various softswitches and voice gateways.

January 2010: Three-Year, Zero Percent

According to Cisco, the financing initiative introduced last year was one of the most popular SMB financing programs it's ever offered: a three-year, zero percent financing program that started in January 2010. That program, available through Cisco Capital, covered deals ranging from $1,000 to $250,000, and spanned the entire Cisco portfolio, from hardware and software through services and maintenance. According to Cisco's Andrew Sage, partner use of the program increased nine-fold during its first three months.

The program's terms ended later in the year, and it has since been adjusted to a three-year, 3 percent financing offer for deals going up to $150,000. According to Cisco's Maryann von Seggern, however, it's still "a hell of a deal" when many customers are financing deals at 12 to 18 percent.