Cisco not afraid to look down

Cisco makes a renewed bid for greater share in the small to medium sized business (SMB) market.

  • E-Mail
By  Simon Duddy Published  October 26, 2004

|~|Mark-De-Simone-Cisco_m.jpg|~|“The new suite of Catalyst switching solutions together with Cisco’s integrated services routers will make it even easier and more cost-effective for SMBs and mid-sized businesses to build secure, reliable, and flexible networks.” - Mark De Simone, vice president of Cisco Middle East and Africa.|~|Cisco used this year’s Gitex exhibition in Dubai to underline its determination to break into the SMB market by sprucing up its Catalyst 4500 series and introducing the Catalyst 4948 fixed switch. Cisco has made this market a priority with CEO John Chambers pledging to release as many as 30 products in the space this year. The new Catalyst switches support converged data, voice and video networks with higher levels of resiliency, security and control, claims the vendor. Enhancements to the 4500 series include Supervisor II-Plus-TS, which integrates connectivity to servers, wireless access points, IP phones and printers. It also features Cisco Network Assistant, a centralised management tool that promises simpler deployment. “The new suite of Catalyst switching solutions together with Cisco’s integrated services routers will make it even easier and more cost-effective for SMBs and mid-sized businesses to build secure, reliable, and flexible networks,” says Mark De Simone, vice president of Cisco Middle East and Africa. Cisco clearly sees a demand in the SMB sector for sophisticated networking solutions and is seeking to exploit this by adapting its successful enterprise products and strategy to move into this market. The Cisco strategy is open to question however, on the grounds that SMBs may not need the functionality offered and that the networking giant may struggle to adapt its business model in unfamiliar territory. Cisco’s networking rivals agree with the vendor that the SMB space represents a great opportunity. “The SMB market is one of the fastest growing areas for IT. Customers have felt neglected by the big networking players like Cisco, so it’s a positive move by Cisco to start focusing on them,” says Kevin Barnes, business development director, EMEA, Adtran. “They’re looking for solutions that meet their needs and are easy to configure. Internet protocol (IP) is becoming less difficult, it’s becoming standardised, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand IP. People are using the internet and looking to extend that technology and use it in different ways,” he adds. Analyst opinion also sides with Cisco on the burgeoning SMB market. “It is a smart move by Cisco,” says Luis Leamus, senior vice president, Executive Directions, Meta Group. “They need the SMB for growth. Its business strategy will be critical, but it has a better chance than most,” he adds. Cisco faces some serious challenges as it moves into the sector, partly because wholly owned subsidiary Linksys already operates there. Furthermore, the small business market places unique demands on vendors. Businesses moving from the enterprise to the SMB often fail to understand the changing dynamics. For example, Cisco relies on a small army of engineers to support its enterprise products but deploying these experts in the SMB will not be cost effective. The vendor will have to come up with a viable alternative. Cisco will also face stiff competition from rivals in the area. A good example is 3Com, which has an extensive SMB product range and well-established business practices tailored to delivering solutions that are easy to use, configure and support. “Cisco is new in the SMB, but we are the leader there, we created the SMB market actually,” says Mehmet Balos, vice president, global marketing & corporate communications, 3Com. “We are going after them in the large enterprise, they are coming after us in the SMB,” he adds.||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code