Cisco is a top vendor in the networking arena and is fairly ubiquitous in enterprise environments. With the acquisition of Linksys, Cisco was able to enter into the consumer market to provide routing and switching for home networks with a proven brand.
Now it is looking to get into the SMB space with a router based on Linux to provide high-quality service in non-enterprise business environments. Cisco will be phasing out the Linksys brand in favor of products branded as Cisco Small Business and Cisco Small Business Pro. Looking at this from the SMB side of the table, I can definitely see the upside both for Cisco's business and for network admins who previously haven't been able to justify big enterprise equipment for their SMB but who are naturally attracted to the well-known Cisco brand.
Cisco initially built a task force to research the SMB market about a year ago and has entered the market with the AP 541N wireless access point. The device should be less complex to configure and maintain than other devices because of its Linux-based configuration rather than the Cisco IOS.
As a network administrator in an SMB organization, I like the security offered by Cisco products, which we use, but I also like the idea of a simplified administration. Sure, our devices can be configured with GUI-based utilities, but this is not recommended. Linksys devices, on the other hand, have a very intuitive and easy-to-understand interface but are not quite as secure as their enterprise counterparts. The new SMB offering by Cisco aims for the middle ground in terms of easy configuration and stronger security.
It looks like Cisco is trying to bridge the gap between SMBs who need more than the SOHO (small office / home office) network gear that has traditionally been available to them but who don't require the kind of enterprise-class networking equipment that Cisco has long provided. This move positions them well in all three spaces of the industry — consumer, SMB, and enterprise. It will be interesting to see how these devices work and what level of adoption they get in the early rollout. What do you think of this new line of products? Is Cisco too late joining the SMB game, or will they dominate that space as well as the enterprise? Take the poll, and let us know how this strikes you.
Derek Schauland has been tinkering with Windows systems since 1997. He has supported Windows NT 4, worked phone support for an ISP, and is currently the IT Manager for a manufacturing company in Wisconsin.