Cisco brings wireless capabilities to SMBs

MIAMI – Small and medium-sized businesses have often gotten the short straw in regard to enterprise wireless and mobility offerings, but no longer.

To better prepare its customers for a future with 26.3 billion devices in 2020, Cisco Systems, Inc. has announced new enterprise-grade indoor and outdoor wireless access points and upgrades to the Cisco Mobility Express management software for SMBs.

The new Cisco Aironet 1815 Series Access Points are designed so that SMBs can keep up with the enterprise-like amount of data they could be accumulating. The Access Points are supported by 802.11ac Wave 2, and outfitted with Cisco enterprise features. They also support Cisco Mobility Express to make the installation process as simple as possible.

There are four different versions of the 1815 Series Access Points designed for either SMBs, teleworks and micro-branch deployments, hospitality and residential halls, and a version with more power for organizations that need a wider coverage zone.

For the outdoor wireless market, Cisco is releasing the Aironet 1540 Access Point, which is perfect for “harsh great outdoors” according to Prashanth Shenoy, vice president of product marketing at Cisco enterprise networking and mobility.

While this outdoor wireless network isn’t exactly the right fit for construction sites and other rugged areas, it is designed for outdoor areas such as university campuses, truck stops, and shopping malls.

“If you look at Cisco today, you can see that now we pretty much have a clear portfolio for small, mid, or enterprise class businesses. And from a deployment capability, we can either provide them with a cloud managed option, or an on-premises managed option,” said Shenoy to the press.

Then there is the Cisco 3504 Wireless LAN Controller, designed to allow organizations to manage wireless networks with 150 access points and 3,000 clients without having to replace current access points in current network infrastructure.

On top of these new offerings are the upgrades to the Cisco Mobility Express. Cisco’s goal with these updates is to eliminate the time required for non-IT professionals to deploy a new wireless network. These upgrades provide SMBs with enterprise-grade software for SMB prices, which is an important upgrade for Cisco’s Canadian partners specifically.

“It really aligns with the Canadian market. Our sweet spot is the small and medium-sized market. It covers almost every vertical for our market. It fills a gap where you don’t have to choose between paying for those premium enterprise offerings,” said Kent MacDonald, vice president of business development and converged infrastructure at Long View Systems based out of Calgary, Alberta.

The new Cisco Mobility Express upgrades include:

  • Scalability: Runs WLAN controller function on an access point supporting up to 100 APs and 2000 clients
  • Ease of Deployment: Plug-and-Play for zero touch deployment in less than 10 minutes
  • Application Visibility & Control: Allows customers to understand exactly what is running on their network.
  • Apple & Cisco Features: Allows customers using Apple devices to get a special premium with Apple Fastlane. This feature automatically assures the highest priority, the fastest performance for trusted applications on Apple devices.
  • Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) Connect: Engage with Guests via Wi-Fi Onboarding with Presence Analytics

This is particularly important for Canadian partners based on the losses they were seeing before these offerings.

“We were probably losing more than using in that space before. We didn’t have a price competitive option. We would more likely come in second place,” said MacDonald.

With these offerings comes new channel partner opportunities. Primarily, these include new offerings that allow partners to expand their sales reach to SMB customers, and increase profitability with the decreased installation time and new services offered. But this doesn’t just extend to those partners with focus in the SMB market. Tier one Cisco partners also have opportunities here to expand into spaces they wouldn’t have before.

“Tier one partners who may not be in this space now have an opportunity to go one rung lower,” said Shenoy.

Pricing for the Cisco Aironet Access Points are as follows. They will be available this April.

  • Aironet 1540 Outdoor Access Point: $995 USD
  • Aironet 1815 Indoor Series Access Points
    • 1815i (Infrastructure): $495 USD
    • 1815t (teleworker): $595 USD
    • 1815w (wallplate): $495 USD
    • 1815m (higher coverage): $595 USD

The Cisco 3504 wireless LAN controller is expected to launch in June. Pricing has yet to be announced.


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Alex Radu
Alex Radu
is a staff writer for Computer Dealer News. When not writing about the tech industry, you can find him reading, watching TV/movies, or watching the Lakers rebuild with one eye open.

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