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Cisco Launches Communications Platform, Certification for Small Businesses

In an effort to increase its market share among SMBs, Cisco Systems Inc. today announced the launch of its Smart Business Communications System for small business and Select Certifications for SMB-focused partners.

The announcement came at the Cisco Partners Summit in Las Vegas and the company launched the product during a webcast with 500 partners.

Ciscos senior vice president of worldwide channels, Keith Goodwin, said SMBs account for more than 1.5 billion of the companys revenue today, but its market penetration is less than it is in other segments Cisco participates in. Cisco defines the SMB market as five to 249 users.

Technology for the small office has been technologically vicious, said Rick Moran, Ciscos vice president of solutions marketing, noting none of it works together. There has to be a better way.

He said the integration of voice, data, video and wireless is the genesis of SBCS. Weve built the best of Cisco in one box that is small not from the capability standpoint, but in size, he said.

That box is the UC500, which is based on Ciscos unified communications Manager Express and Cisco Unity Express. It is an eight-port system that supports Cisco unified IP phones and Communicator softphone. It also has a built-in Wi-Fi access point.

The system can be expanded to 16 ports with the addition of the Cisco Catalyst Express 520 and Cisco wireless LAN controller. Cisco partner IPcelerate jointly announced prepackaged vertical market applications specifically for the UC500.

To facilitate sales of the new SBCS, Cisco is launching the Select Certification, an entry-level certification for channel partners with a primary focus on the SMB market. It is the first new certification for the company in more than 10 years.

Ciscos existing certifications are Premier, Silver and Gold. The Select Certification is a follow-up to a program launched in 2004 called SMB Select Marketing, which now has 5,000 partners.

The company is expanding its certification to include these partners and intends to double the number to 10,000 in three to five years and triple the average business they bring to Cisco, according to Andrew Sage, senior director of worldwide channel marketing for Cisco.

Select Certification has technical and sales training requirements, which when met, give partners access to a range of perks including certified branding and placement in the partner locater. Additionally, a new partner development fund has been created to set aside a percentage of a partners sales to invest in further training, demo units and marketing.

Cisco Systems Inc. www.cisco.com


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