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Cisco Updates Partner Offerings

New programs, financing come as the networking giant continues to push for small business revenues.

Cisco Systems Inc. is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the small and medium business market and the channel companies that can help the networking firm reach SMB customers.

This month, Cisco announced new partner pre-sales technical support, a partner-focused hardware advanced-replacement service, partner profitability tools, financing programs and new products. The moves came on the anniversary of Cisco's $100 million small business investment.

The presales technical support program is officially called Cisco Partner Design Support. The program offers complimentary assistance to partners in design, installation and configuration of customer solutions. Engineers focused on Cisco Small Business technology are available to partners by phone or online chat in nine languages.

The replacement program is the Cisco Small Business Pro Rapid Replacement Service. A three-year service contract, it consists of four-hour equipment replacement, 24-hour technical support and coverage for Cisco Small Business Pro products.

A major component of Cisco's partner profitability effort is the Small Business Partner Development Fund (PDF) program. It provides quarterly payments to partners based on purchases of Cisco Small Business products. Eligible partners include Cisco Registered Partners, Cisco Specialized Partners, online resale partners and service providers.

Cisco Capital, the firm's financing unit, is also extending credit to partners and small business customers. The company says that in the United States its offers include zero-percent financing for Cisco Unified Communications and Small Business Pro Series products. Terms are 36 months same as cash and an option to take ownership of equipment at the end of a lease. The financing arm is also supporting channel partners through credit lines and longer than 30-day payment terms.

In addition to programs for partners, Cisco is expanding its portfolio of products for those partners to take to SMB customers.

Among the new products is a $499 wireless access point, the Cisco AP 541N, which is an 802.11n dual-band clustering device designed for small businesses. Several new products build on the $430 Cisco SPA 525G IP Phone, including MonitorView, which allows Cisco small business security camera video to stream to the IP phone's visual display. Another software upgrade for the phone allows teleworkers to use it to VPN into the company network from any location. Cisco also has new versions of the Cisco Hosted Small Business Communications solution and the Smart Business Communication System.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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