Cisco rolls out new business solutions

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BANGKOK—Cisco rolls out its new portfolio of business solutions designed for small and medium businesses to over 300 partners in Asia-Pacific, Japan and China (APJC). This signals more companies on the same ground of connectivity as its bigger counterparts.

The new range of products and services stressed Cisco’s target to get every company connected to the Internet, which is reportedly pegged at only 1 percent around the world today.

“We have the potential to connect 99 percent more things to the Internet of everything,” says Jaime Valles, Cisco’s APJC president, addressing partners and analysts across Asia in Bangkok last week.

Valles is bullish about economic growth in Asia, predicting it would capture 46 percent of the world’s gross domestic product in 2020. He says Asia is also set to gain 60 percent of the world’s high-speed broadband connections and 54 percent of all mobile phone subscribers by then.

In order to meet the demand, Cisco has earmarked a $40-million investment package for Asia this year, with focus on increasing presence on host countries, he says.

The networking giant earned $7.3 billion in 2012 so far in sales, with biggest markets in Australia, China, Japan and Korea, said Valles, who used to lead Cisco’s Latin American market.

He says that Cisco’s three-fold investment plan includes emerging markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia Vietnam and the Philippines.

The networking giant has trained its sights on the coveted SMB market with low cost, enterprise-grade products where partners are also rewarded with rebates and premium services revenues.

Partners present at the conference, representing 16,000 in total from 16 countries in APJC, renewed their business ties with US-based company to get industry updates, exchange best practices and set up potential collaborations and network projects.

Cisco is one of the pioneers of networking during the dotboom era and claims to have installed 50 million devices and 6 million annual customer support in the last 25 years.  It has then branched out its services to security monitoring, spam filtering, wireless networking, telepresence, video calls, dual WAN, site-to-site and remote VPN access with solutions for unified threat management (UTM).

Bo Kwang Suh, Cisco’s head of services for APJC, says that traditional approaches to services were becoming less effective as he outlined the trends in IT in cloud storage and device mobility.

“At this point, some companies want to expand but don’t have the proper IT system to keep up with the requirements. That’s why they hire IT companies to do it,” says Bo.

He adds the presence of chief information officers (CIOs) in executive boards also indicates the increasing relevance of IT needs in a company’s business model.  He stresses that “cloud” also creates opportunities to generate more revenues from services.

Cisco’s SMB solutions are designed to allow better cost management via the cloud storage, says Arnie Alvarez, chief of Cisco-Philippines Data Center and Virtualization.

“It’s not new. The concept of private cloud storage in the Philippines is seen as picking up its pace,” Alvarez says.

“Some companies tend to have the wait-and-see attitude. But it’s here and ready as it is done around the world,” he adds.

Partner delegates were also asked to embrace the changing nature of the workplace and the increasing demand for IT-related talent pool.

“With the growing trend of BYOB or bring your own device for work and mobility, the workplace is now a workspace. It’s now where you go to work, but where you bring your work,” says Ross Fowler, Cisco APJC vice president of enterprise sales.

IT demand in the region includes a focus on urbanization and sustainability, says Stanimira Koleva, Cisco vice president for partner business group for APJC.

Koleva says there is a “major transformation” in how business is dealt in retail, consumer goods, manufacturing, supply chain, energy, telecommunications, healthcare and online that requires digital services.

She notes examples on the increasing use of digital signage, mobile coupons, analytics as well as video-heavy support for business processes outsourcing.

Cisco also announces an SMB-oriented bundle featuring multiline DECT (digital enhanced cordless telecommunications) ATA (analog telephone adaptor) for routing VoIP calls over the PSTN (public switched telephone network).

Dan Foster, director of US integrator MegaPath, describes the products as SMB-friendly.

“The market has been asking for VoIP services to natively encompass their wireless telephony needs of conducting calls while moving between the customer-facing storefront or front office and the back office,” he says.

Cisco also releases automatic software and firmware updates for its wireless hardware, and new routers, which support several connectivity options including 3G and 4G via USB.

Cisco’s Jabber and WebEx unified communications solutions, which will become available to APJC partners through the Cisco advantage road show, is running now in around 100 cities.

Andrew Leigh, director of Allcom Networks, a Sydney-based systems integrator and Cisco partner, welcomes Cisco’s high-level enterprise security in an SMB-price package.

“It’s something we’ve really been dying for,” says Leigh, noting that customers in Papua New Guinea pay Internet bandwidth by the byte and where security monitoring for spams has increasingly been aggressive and thus costly.

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