It’s Official: Cisco Launches SMB Blitz
During a press conference at the Cisco Partner Summit an hour ago, Cisco confirmed the day’s worst-kept secret: The company is making an aggressive move into the small and midsize business market. The VAR Guy hinted about this earlier today. Here are the “official” details from Cisco along with some quick-hit perspectives from The VAR Guy.
First, The SMB push sets the stage for Cisco VARs to compete more directly against Microsoft solutions providers in the unified communications market. You can almost hear the Cisco executives locked away in a meeting room: “Wormer is a dead man! Marmalard: Dead! Neidermeyer: Dead! Microsoft: Dead!
The Cisco SMB initiative has two components: The Cisco Smart Business Communications System (SBCS) and Select Certification, an entry-level certification for SMB channel partners.
SBCS includes several new products, including IP phone management technology, power-over-Ethernet switches, WiFi solutions and software that allows VARs to monitor and manage customers’ networks. The VAR Guy was intrigued to hear that the system integrates with popular CRM and ERP applications such as Salesforce.com. Finally, Cisco seems to be connecting with the ISV community. Cisco also demonstrated several Windows-based unified applications during the press conference. Watch for the SBCS solutions to debut in June.
Next up, in The VAR Guy’s opinion, Cisco needs to work more closely with open source application developers like Sugar CRM, JasperSoft and Centric CRM. Still, The VAR Guy is splitting hairs. Cisco has addressed most of the major ERP and CRM providers in the SMB space with today’s announcement.
Also of note, the Select Certification potentially raises the visibility of VARs on Cisco’s Web site. Going forward, Cisco’s partner search engine will leverage Google Maps, giving customers a mash-up of local VARs from which to choose. Channel Insider, a Ziff Davis Web site, offers some interesting perspective on the Select program.