Cisco fights for 'fair share of SMB pie' with unified communications gear

NEW ORLEANS -- Cisco this week unveiled two unified communications products optimized for small and midsize businesses, a market Cisco admits it needs to increase share in.

The products, rolled out at the Cisco Partner Summit here, are designed to provide customers with more affordable business-class collaboration systems than those sold to larger enterprises. Cisco has an 8% share of the $33 billion total addressable market for SMBs and midsize companies, Cisco executives at the conference said.

THE CISCO CONNECTION: Cisco's call to arms

Yet, that is not enough for Cisco.

"We're not getting our fair share" of the SMB pie, said Keith Goodwin, senior vice president of the Worldwide Partner Organization at Cisco.

One analyst says the Cisco products may prompt a refresh cycle among frugal SMBs.

"The average SMB keeps their phone system 15 years," says Steve Hilton of Analysys Mason. "The price points [of the new Cisco products] are good for both developed and developing markets."

The new products include the Cisco Unified Communications 300 Series and the Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 3000. The 300 line's first product, the 320W, is targeted at companies with two to 24 users. It includes IP phones, small PBX features like voicemail, automated attendant, voicemail to e-mail notification, SIP trunking, and interoperability with up to 12 PSTN lines.

The 320W also includes a 4-port Gigabit Ethernet switch with VLAN support, a Gigabit Ethernet WAN port to connect to the Internet, and a built-in 802.11b/g/n wireless access point.

The Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 3000 is designed for 300 users across 10 sites. It consists of a 1RU appliance with two built-in T1/E1 ports, a call-processing and voicemail application and a GUI for provisioning and management.

Unlike the 320W, there is no Wi-Fi or switching on the 3000.

The 3000 features voicemail, conferencing, the ability to park or hold calls, auto attendant, single number reach, extension mobility, and the ability to connect business calls and voicemail messages to telework employees. It works with the Cisco Unified SIP Phone 3905, which includes fixed keys for redial, transfer, hold and resume, speakerphone, volume toggle, and a PC switch port to reduce cabling installation requirements.

Cisco also announced that it is now allowing channel partners to resell its WebEx Meeting Center Web conferencing service. WebEx Meeting Center lets end users share applications, presentations, documents, or a PC desktop in real time and work with teams around the world without the time and expense of travel.

Cisco Unified Communications 320W is currently available. List pricing is $995. Cisco Unified Communications Manager Business Edition 3000 is scheduled to be available in the second quarter. List pricing is $12,400 for 100 users.

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Jim Duffy

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