Cisco eyes future Linksys strategy

Cisco eyes future Linksys strategy

Cisco is adjusting its Linksys reseller strategy as its own products move into small businesses

Cisco Systems is modifying the channel strategy for its Linksys consumer and small-business brand as the enterprise networking giant moves deeper into its subsidiary's traditional territory.

Over the next 2-3 months, Cisco plans to make it easier for Linksys resellers to add Cisco products to their offerings and vice versa, senior director in Cisco's global SMB group, Lauren Ventura, said.

The company was also considering a change to its Linksys brand strategy, she said. A decision on this move, which might involve making Linksys a sub-brand of Cisco or some other change, would probably be made in the same timeframe.

Cisco has been putting more resources into SMB products in the past few years as it sees fast-growing demand in that market. This week at the annual Cisco Partner Summit in Las Vegas, it introduced a set of unified communications products called the Smart Business Communication System and said the offering was aimed particularly at organisations with 20 or fewer employees.

Linksys, which it acquired in 2003, has an extensive lineup of its own for small-business customers in addition to its consumer home-network gear. The business line includes routers, switches, IP phones and voice gateways.

The difference was that Linksys products didn't include advanced features such as unified communications, which combined voice calls and messaging and could integrate them into applications, she said. The wholly owned subsidiary's products were suited to customers that didn't see a need for such features and tend3e to be looking for a less expensive product.

However, Cisco's push for those advanced features moved farther down the market with this week's announcement. At the same time, Cisco had a program that lets customers trade in Linksys gear for Cisco products, Ventura said.

The Linksys brand for business would go away eventually, but how long it took would depend on customers, Communications Network Architects analyst, Frank Dzubeck, said. Before that, he said Cisco would eliminate overlaps. Linksys would keep smaller products such as cable connectors and surveillance cameras.

IDC analyst, Ray Boggs, saw the line blurring but thoughtCisco could benefit from two brands, which could force the Linksys and Cisco teams to "stretch and rethink and respond to the market". There was some danger of confusion, but customers wouldn't be left behind, he said.

"The Linksys guys are not going to be put into the shadow," Boggs said.

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