Nortel, Cisco: The SMB Battle Is Just Beginning
Pull up a seat, folks. The battle between Cisco and Nortel is just getting started. Only days after Cisco Systems launched its small and midsize business (SMB) initiative, rival Nortel Networks is ready to throw some counter punches. The VAR Guy hears Nortel hopes to make lots of noise on April 16 with a series of new SMB solutions spanning both voice and data.
Details about the announcement remain sketchy, but the timing for Nortel’s SMB campaign — dubbed “My Business” — couldn’t be better. Cisco grabbed the SMB spotlight on April 3 by unveiling the Smart Business Communications System (SBCS) and Select Certification. SBCS is a unified communications platform for small businesses; Select certification is an entry-level certification for SMB channel partners.
Now, Nortel will counter-attack with “enhanced SMB packaged solutions supporting a wide range of users at affordable prices,” notes one tipster. Hmmm. Tastes great. Less filling. It’s got to be good, right?
Some skeptics left Nortel for dead in recent years. Accounting scandals, earnings restatements and four rounds of layoffs tend to wear on you, ya know. But The VAR Guy thinks Nortel is worth watching again, partly because of the unified communications partnership with Microsoft. It’s not a perfect relationship, but it potentially gives Nortel access to Microsoft’s vast network of integrators and VARs.
The big question: Will Microsoft partners recommend Nortel’s networking gear rather than Cisco’s?
Cisco says it has a big lead over Microsoft and Nortel in unified communications. But Nortel is aggressively questioning Cisco’s claims at every opportunity. And on April 16, Nortel will have the chance to stop talking about Cisco and start talking–again–about its own SMB push.
The battle doesn’t end there, folks. The VAR Guy has already booked another ticket to Las Vegas, this time to see Cisco and Nortel trade blows at Interop.
For the record, The VAR Guy has a Nortel phone on his desk and Linksys/Cisco gear in his wiring closet.