Cisco Systems Canada is raising the stakes in the highly competitive IP market place with the release of two new products specifically designed for small-to-medium sized businesses.

The new products comprise Cisco CallManager Express, an IOS call-processing service and Cisco Unity Express, an

automated-attended voice-mail system. These products are targeted at 100 employee environments are less and complement existing CallManager IP systems and Cisco IP phones.

“”It’s a new IP system design for SMBs and it is also applicable to branch offices of larger enterprises. But, it’s designed for small business and an alternative to circuit switch or PBX,”” said Christian Bazinet, national manager, product and technology marketing for Cisco Systems Canada.

Also part of the package will be 10 adaptable, how-to blueprints for enabling a full-service branch. These blueprints will implementation information on security, LAN, WAN, voice, video, Web applications and mobility.

Bazinet said these products are a software upgrade that were built off of Cisco’s router platform.

“”If you look at a router you may say ‘it’s just a router’, but it’s not just a router it is an intelligent appliance with security and IP telephony features,”” Bazinet said.

He added that this is a scaled down version of Cisco’s enterprise solution. “”I call it a cross polination of applications across multiple platforms. For an enterprise this sits on a server, but for 100 users or less we can fit it on a router.””

Rod Weir, national manager, advanced technologies for Cisco Systems Canada, said the company anticipates a spike in the number of partners carrying IP telephony.

However, he preaches partner readiness. “”IP is one of those areas where it requires training, lab equipment and a geographic compliment (of VARs) across the country,”” Weir said.

Currently, Cisco has 25 partners in this area, but expect to add 10 to 20 more in the next 12 months, Weir said.

“”Getting up to speed and becoming comfortable with the idea of IP. It’s all in the training and it’s all online and at no charge,”” he said.

With CallManager and Unity Express, users will be able to do many PBX services such as call pick up, call forwarding, day/night service, hunt groups, paging, and intercom.

According to Bazinet, if your customer already has the router then it will be a small investment towards the IP solution. From scratch, it will cost $800 per user for a total solution.

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