Microsoft, D-Link Dial for Dollars
Microsoft and its hardware partners are speed-dialing their way into the small business voice-over-IP market. Quanta and D-Link, through partnerships with the software giant, intend to offer IP phone systems that cost about $5,500 for a 20-user deployment. Although The VAR Guy is bullish about the Asterisk open source telephony platform, there’s something intriguing about Microsoft’s VoIP relationship with D-Link.
When The VAR Guy visited D-Link about two weeks ago, Executive VP Keith A. Karlsen described a three-point strategy to grow the company’s business. He noted that VARs were piecing D-Link’s networking, storage and video surveillance equipment into total network solutions. And he also mentioned a simple but aggressive strategy to be the number one alternative to Cisco Systems, especially on the network edge.
At first glance, this is a dangerous strategy. 3Com, you’ll recall, nearly imploded in the 1990s by focusing on the network edge as Cisco’s dominance grew. But in D-Link’s case, the company basically wants to co-exist with Cisco in many enterprises. Save money by deploying D-Link solutions on the network edge, Karlsen says, and you’ll have more money available to invest in innovation. Or, you can take the savings and apply it to expensive Cisco equipment for your network core, he quips.
Either way, D-Link wants to undercut Cisco on price — especially in large enterprises. But Karlsen is quick to note that some enterprises are standardizing on D-Link across the board. The city of Seattle, Karlsen says, is lit by D-Link equipment.
During our meeting in September, Karlsen wasn’t quite ready to dive into details about the VoIP market — especially since partner Microsoft was putting the finishing touches on its VoIP software.
The VAR Guy spent most of 2007 evangelizing Asterisk from Digium for small business VoIP deployments. But you can bet the Microsoft branding machine will help D-Link VARs to connect with more small business customers.