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February 24, 2009

Cisco Enhances Smart Business Communications System

By Sandra M. Gustavsen, Analyst, T3i Group LLC

Cisco has announced new products for small businesses, focusing on essential business needs – security, connectivity and productivity. Among the new products which are now available worldwide, are enhancements to the Cisco (News - Alert) Smart Business Communications System (SBCS), an all-in-one device that provides telephony, messaging and mobility within a single, compact and easily-administered device.

The heart of Cisco’s SBCS is the Cisco Unified Communications (News - Alert) 500 (UC500) Series for Small Business which combines Unified Communications Manager Express (formerly CallManager Express), Unity Express for voice and desktop messaging and Cisco IP Phones and comes preloaded with all software and licenses. Customers can choose from several configurations, ranging from eight to 64 users. 
SBCS Release 1.4 adds support for the Cisco SPA525G desktop IP phone ($430) that operates in wired or wireless mode and supports both SIP or SPCP Protocols, giving UC500 customers a choice now of five IP telephones – 521G, 521SG, 524G, 524SG and SPA525G. The phone allows convenient connectivity via Bluetooth headset, Power over Ethernet, or an 802.11g wireless client. The phone can be used with productivity enhancing features, including VoiceView Express and Cisco XML Applications. Notable features include five line appearances, a 3.2-inch color display, support for popular telephony features (such as caller ID, call forwarding, call transfer, 3-way conferencing, call history, phonebook, and speakerphone), but also forward-looking functionality like support for MP3 ring tones, digital photos, and RSS feeds. R1.4 also updates Cisco 520 Secure Router for network protection and the Cisco Configuration Assistant for system administration.
Also, new for small businesses is the Cisco Spam and Virus Blocker, a security appliance that is easy to install and manage (automatic updates) and provides protection against unwanted e-mail (spam and viruses). This complete solution includes hardware, software, updates and product support in a single package ($2,599 to $5,399, depending on number of users (50, 100 or 250) and length of subscription - one or three years). The new Cisco NSS2000 and NSS3000 Network Storage Systems are desktop, network-attached storage devices for protecting stored data from unauthorized access, and with MAC-based filtering to limit connections to the device (starts at $595).
TelecomTactics Takeaway: In November 2008, Cisco announced a $100 million global strategic initiative focused on Small Business Networking and communications solutions for companies with under 100 employees. As part of this initiative, Cisco formed the Small Business Technology Group (SBTG) charged with developing technologies focused on six key areas for small businesses and their growth: connectivity, security, remote access, productivity, customer interaction and customer support. To this end, Cisco rolls out several new products and enhanced solutions for small businesses, including the Cisco Spam and Virus Blocker (security), Cisco NSS2000 and NSS3000 Network Storage Systems (connectivity) and Cisco Smart Business Communications System R1.4 (productivity) with support for the new Cisco SPA525G wireless desktop IP Phone ($430) with convenient connectivity via Bluetooth headset, Power over Ethernet, or an 802.11g wireless client and with features for today’s technology-savvy worker, including MP3 ring tones, digital photos and RSS feeds.

Sandra M. Gustavsen, senior analyst for T3i Group, contributes her TelecomTactics column to TMCnet. To read more of Sandra’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Michelle Robart

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