Cisco in SMB market attack

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Networking giant Cisco Systems Australia is looking to put pressure on competing suppliers D-Link and Netgear with a new SMB-targeted channel program dubbed Simply Cisco Engage.

Networking giant Cisco Systems Australia is looking to put pressure on competing suppliers D-Link and Netgear with a new SMB-targeted channel program dubbed Simply Cisco Engage.

Not satisfied with its dominance of the service provider and enterprise markets, the SMB market would be the company's next port of call, driven largely by the expected proliferation of technologies such as IP telephony at the smaller end of town.

Ross Fowler, managing director at Cisco Systems Australia told CRN that channel "focus groups" found that some resellers found it difficult to become a Cisco partner.

"After I joined [Cisco], we were looking at our go-to-market models [and found] we needed to do something to address the SMB market." he said.

While the company had worked to reduce its number of channel partners at the high-end of the market in the past, it claimed it would increase SMB-focused partner ranks as a result of the program.

Under the program, Cisco would look to recruit resellers that it hadn't necessarily worked with in the past.

These could be resellers that had not necessarily had a history in reselling networking products and services, he said.

Fowler was quick to play down the possibility of channel conflict as a result, saying that it would recruit resellers who have customers that are not being reached by the current list of Cisco channel partners.

Cisco defines its SMB customers as sites with less than 150 seats, Fowler said.

To alleviate confusion over where the Cisco and Linksys products fit in the market, Fowler said any SMB customer that wanted a converged network in a secure managed environment would buy Cisco whereas Linksys equipment would be more suitable for consumers and SOHO customers that wanted basic internet access.

The program offers joint marketing funds to Cisco's base of 1500 Premier certified partners. The company said it would fund up to 75 percent of any approved marketing activity up to a maximum of US$5000 with the partner funding the remaining 25 percent.

Also, the company's finance arm Cisco Capital would now finance deals as low as $2000. Previously if the deal was less than $150,000, the company "wouldn't look at it," Fowler said.

In conjunction with the new program, Cisco had hired three extra channel account managers in NSW, one in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria, Fowler said.

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