Cisco Strengthens Products For Midmarket

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Tom Keating
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Cisco Strengthens Products For Midmarket

Cisco today announced a series of news surrounding their midmarket product line and their partners that sell Cisco products in this space. A quick overview is that they announced some enhancements to Cisco Business Edition 6000, their midmarket collaboration platform, a new Cisco Express Collaboration specialization, simplification of Telepresence Advanced Technology Programs, and tools for Midsize Business Marketing Campaigns.

I spoke with Marc Inderhees, Senior Manager, Worldwide Collaboration Channel Sales about this news. He stated that Cisco sees the midmarket as 100-1000 employees with over 3.7 million midmarket businesses worldwide. According to Cisco, 1 in 6 employees work for a midmarket company. Marc said that the consumerization of IT is affecting the midmarket dramatically due to the explosion of devices infiltrating their business. While larger enterprises may have the IT resources to deal with this, the midmarket often does not. Cisco aims to reduce this pain point of increased consumer devices on the network.

cisco-business-edition-6000.jpgOne big piece of news is that the enterprise-scale Cisco Business Edition 6000 (BE 6000) is now dropping down from 50 to a 25-user starter package with improved licensing. Technically, this also hits the SMB and not just the midmarket, but often a larger company will deploy a small trial run or at a branch office and then if it goes well they'll fully deploy. Still, the enterprise-class BE 6000 can now technically hit the enterprise, midmarket, and SMB space. With features such as unified communications (UC), Cisco Jabber, Cisco WebEx, telepresence, messaging & paging, and mobility/wireless features, this is a powerful platform that address business's needs of all sizes. It serves up to 1,000 users and 50 sites with support for Survivable Branch (SRST).

Another new feature is that they've virtualized Cisco TelePresence Video Communications Server (VCS) and have loaded it onto the BE 6000 for free. This is huge, since the licensing for this software was in the thousands. This really opens the door for video conferencing in the SMB and midmarket space. Yet another new feature is Singlewire InformaCast paging for doing overhead paging, mass notification, emergency notification to IP phone endpoints and other devices.

On the partner side, Cisco announced some enhancements to their Cisco Express Collaboration Specialization program including a 50% lower partner training & investment requirements along with Premiere Certification and access to their technical support (TAC). Relatedly, they announced a refreshed Telepresence Advanced Technology Programs (ATP) that is more streamlined and with reduced requirements. They also announced 3% Cisco Capital Financing offer to help close deals on the Cisco Business Edition 6000 portfolio and eligible Cisco TelePresence endpoints, an offer that is available until July 31, 2013. Finally, they are offering a "Demand Generation Kit" (available mid-February) that features email campaigns, customer interest offers (whitepapers, analyst reports, etc.), partner marketing guide, and seminar-in-a-box. They are also offering a playbrief, call guide, competition battlecards, and copy blocks.

We also briefly discussed competitive advantages and Marc mentioned that many of their competitors such as Avaya, ShoreTel, and Microsoft (Lync) often have to partner to complete the feature-set. For instance, ShoreTel has to partner for telepresence, and Microsoft has to partner for certain call center functionality. I think Cisco partners and VARs will welcome the new 25-user license pack, lower cost of certification, and improved functionality (telepresence) in the Cisco Business Edition 6000.

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