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SMB Biz is Bright

We got to spend some quality time with Cisco, 3Com and NETGEAR to catch up on how things were going in their respective SMB efforts. Since we already covered their new product announcements in our Pre-Show report, we'll just share a few factoids we picked up during our conversations.

Cisco VP of Marketing for its Commercial group Peter Alexander painted a rosy picture of his group's business. This product group focuses on serving businesses that have from 20 - 1000 users and that have managed networks. While the lower end of this market is also served by Cisco's Linksys division, Alexander said that managed networks would remain in Cisco's turf.

Cisco 800 Series Integrated Services Router
Cisco 800 Series Integrated Services Router

Alexander also said that his group was the fastest growing part of Cisco's business and represented about 25% of revenue. The group's expansion of its 800 Series of "Integrated Services" routers down to lower price points and the introduction of its $3500 ASA 5500 Adaptive Security Appliance converged firewall, IPS, network anti-virus and VPN device are expected to help continue Cisco's Commercial segment growth.

3Com's Neal Kaufman, VP of Product Management for its OfficeConnect line was also bullish on SMB product sales. He said 3Com's approach in its OfficeConnect line was to leverage the technology from its enterprise-grade products and to offer warranties with features like the next-business-day replacement guarantee for switches.

Kaufman is also looking to VoIP as a growth area with small businesses. The main weapon in his VoIP arsenal is the NBX V3000 Platform, which is part of the managed services initiative announced at the show. The V3000 can supply VoIP PBX services for between 2 to 200 users, has four built-in FXO interfaces and is priced starting around $2700.

NETGEAR's small-biz focus was enhanced by its introduction of two new VPN routers and a 48 port "smart" switch, plus the rollout of free firmware updates to add SNMP 1.0 support to its entire "Smart Switch" line starting in June. We were reminded that NETGEAR VARs can also offer VoIP solutions through a marketing agreement with Shoretel, but learned that the company is also working on its own VoIP gateway with FXO and FXS ports.

ADTRAN focused on spreading its "#2 in Router marketshare, #1 in Value" gospel at Interop. This claim is based on the Dell'Oro Group "Routers Report Q4 04" that shows the Huntsville, Alabama based networking vendor rose from number four to number two maker in the less than 1 Gbps router category a year ago.

A few ADTRAN NetVanta routers
A few ADTRAN NetVanta routers

The company continues to broaden its product line past its CSU / DSU roots and position itself as a lower-priced alternative to Cisco in many networking product categories. ADTRAN also added two PoE 24 port switched routers - the NetVanta 1224R PoE and NetVanta 1224STR PoE - to its line via Interop announcements.

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