Nortel expands its Ethernet switch line for SMB market

Nortel Networks has added two Ethernet switches to the low end of its line, aiming them directly at smaller organizations.

The Business Ethernet Switch (BES) 50, for desktops, and the BES 200 series, a stackable device, should help partners broaden their offerings to smaller companies, said Nortel officials.

The addition of the units “provides a complete portfolio of solutions designed for the needs of small and medium businesses,” said Richard Solosky, Nortel’s SMB product marketing director. He defined the target market as companies from five to 300 users.

“These are not big enterprise products repackaged for the SME,” he said of the new switches. “They’re designed from the ground up, they’re priced right for the SMB marketplace and they work in an integrated fashion.

At the same time Nortel also announced Release 2 of its Business Communications Manager 50 software, used to manage Internet-based communications, which includes a number of new features.

“We’re offering a complete portfolio of voice and data products to make it easier for our partners to move into the converged market, and provide better service to customers,” said Soloksy.

The BES 50, which will be available next month, comes in Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet versions in 12 or 24-port models. Prices range from US$750 to US$1,375.

A Web-managed device for plug and play installation, Nortel says it offers a complete converged networking solution for small businesses with less than 50 network users when used with the BCM 50 software.

The BES 200 line, available at the end of this month, will have two models, the 210 and the 220 with similar features in 24- and 48-port versions. However, the 220 also offers Power over Ethernet. Up to four of either model can be stacked together.

Prices range from US$595 to US$2,290 depending on the number of ports.

The BCM software has been improved by adding an Intelligent Contact Center and Multimedia Contact Center, giving users access to detailed reporting, real-time statistics and Web presence features.

Darin Barton, director of sales for Net Cyclops, an Oakville, Ont. Nortel VAR, said that for small organizations with limited budgets the new switches “could be an economical solution.”

“We’ve got a fair number of businesses those would fit nicely,” he said.

However, he believes that most medium-sized companies would opt for one of Nortel’s bigger and fuller-featured Ethernet Switch 400 series, which “are going to provide to provide a higher value in the long run.”

Michael Segura, Nortel’s North American SMB marketing campaign director, said the release of the BES 50 and 200 lines is part of the company’s “IPT 1-2-3” campaign to push its products to small and mid-sized customers.

The program, launched in September, includes a streamlined online application allowing distributors and resellers to quickly assemble quotes on solutions. For example, a partner can put together a bundle including an IP-based PBX, unified voice messaging and IP-enabled phones.

There are similar TDM-based packages for customers who don’t want IP-based systems.

Nortel has also created an inside contact centre to work with partners, passing on leads gleaned from requests for quotes logged on the company’s Web site.

Segura estimated there are 200 Nortel Canadian partners selling to SMB customers, but he couldn’t say how many have signed up for the 1-2-3 program.

“With the new capabilities we have in the Business Communications Manager 50 and the Business Ethernet Switch 50 and 2200 we can offer new functionality to the small and medium size business market that was once relegated to large enterprises,” said Segura.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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