2014 seems to be flying by. I cannot seem to keep up. The blur started with, well, Thanksgiving, the Holiday Season, New Years, Chinese New Year, and now Valentine’s Day is on Friday. You made that dinner reservation right?
We often get questions from folks about which model is right for their small business, whether we are talking about a switch, wireless access point or router. Of course the answer depends on the questioner and their respective business. For a home office or solo person business to a small team of employees in a single room/area, an all-in-one wireless router will make sense. Essentially, it has a router, small switch and wireless access point in one box. Once the business requires more people and more real estate, a more complex approach maybe necessary.
I saw a tweet last week from a gentleman in the UK who did a write-up on the RV220W, which is an all-in-one model. The writer does a good job comparing a normal consumer router versus a small business router and pointing important characteristics to look for. Take a look at the write-up, then go make that reservation.
Now that the Holidays are upon us, and we look forward to 2014, the Cisco Small Business team continues to raise the Small Business networking bar with the introduction of the all new Cisco RV325. This Dual WAN, 14-port VPN Router, provides all of the same performance, security and reliability of the RV320 launched last June. Both routers are perfect for fast-growing small businesses or branch deployments. So if you are looking for more ports in the same enclosure, the RV325 is the Small Business router to take a look at.
RV320 and RV325
Like the it’s smaller sibling the RV320, the RV325 is a perfect match with the Cisco Small Business SG300 Series Switches and WAP500 Series Access Points. As you saw from my last Blog, the WAP551 and WAP561 boasts a nice feature-set including Captive Portal and Single Point Set-up. The WAP 551/561 are controller-less Access Points meaning additional hardware is not required. The SG300 Series offers a nice blend of features at an affordable price and are designed Small Business. It has most of the features that can be found in today’s Enterprise-class Switches.
This formidable combination makes for the perfect solution for that many Small Businesses and Organizations can take advantage of. Add in our portfolio of award-winning Cisco Small Business Services, and you have a solution that all that guarantees a positive experience from Cisco Small Business Team.
One Option for this solution is the newly launched 200 Series of Smart Switches. There are four new models including 10-, 24-, 26-, and 50-port switches. These Full Power PoE Smart Switches are a great alternative as they offer a generous feature-set, solid performance and even greater affordability.
SG200 Series PoE Smart Switch
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year’s from the Team at Cisco Small Business.
As we head towards Thanksgiving, it amazes me how fast time flies. 4th of July was a few weeks ago, right? I have yet to start holiday shopping, although the conversation at least came up this week. Wait! There is so much to get done before Christmas, so much to do with the Cisco Small Business Team! But yes, I digress.
This week, my colleague Product Manager, Nasser Tarazi, who manages the Cisco Small Business Wireless Access Points, created a short video covering how Cisco’s Single Point Setup makes the configuration, deployment and management of multiple access points a snap. In less than 5 minutes, he had a secure wireless network with two access points. All of configuration was done through a setup wizard that guides you step-by-step how to configure the access points. They automatically optimize the key radio settings so that is one thing less for you to do. I could go on and on about how easy and fast it was, but it would be easier for you just to watch the video.
The bottom line is that Single Point Setup saves you time and money and you don’t need to be or have an expert to configure these products. In fact, this is a consistent trait for all of Cisco Small Business Wireless, Switching and Routing Portfolios. We believe that making our Small Business portfolios are among the easiest to deploy, configure and setup as we have made it one of the top priorities.
Please take a look when you have a moment. If you have a little more time, remember to take a look at our list of Cisco Small Business online emulators. These emulators do just that, it provides a simulation of how the router, access point and of course switches can be set-up, configured and managed, all in an intuitive way.
Nasser would also like to note that the AP541N is now End-of-Life. The replacement products are the WAP551 and the WAP561.
It’s October again and that means a few things: the weather is starting to cool down; it’s almost time to carve pumpkins and it’s SMB Week/Month (depending on who you ask)! We’re kicking off SMB Week/Month with part one of a four-part blog series focusing on preparing small business owners for their next technology upgrade.
For part one, I thought we would start at the beginning of any business purchase, financing.
It’s quite common to see a small business’ big technology idea be restricted because of budget. Finding the right financing plan for your information technology (IT) project is critical because often, simple upgrades can provide the framework your business needs to reach its goals.
A good financing plan will allow you to align your IT assets with your business initiatives. It can help you adopt new technology that will increase profits in the long run and your immediate cash flow can be invested back into your company. Here are five tips on how to find the right financing plan for your small business:
Make a plan
Before looking at financing options, you must decide what technology you need to achieve your business objectives. While setting these goals, ensure you are being realistic in regards to your financial realities. If your budget is slim, allocate your resources to what you predict will be the most important and rewarding project. Once you have a plan you can browse your financing options while being educated and targeted, not wasting any of your – or your business’ – time.
Start with a flexible contract
In today’s fast-paced world it is important to ensure you are signing a contract that will allow you to stay current with technology innovations. By starting with a flexible contract you are able to control your IT investments when new business or technology is introduced. When starting a business, cash flow can be volatile so having a flexible payment plan in place can deter additional fees or unforeseen costs. In order to achieve this stability, choose a company that offers captive financing rates. And here’s another tip: some types of institutions are supported by their parent company, and not impacted by banks’ fluctuating rates.
Look for the ability to upgrade
The issue with purchasing IT hardware is that technology can become obsolete before you teach all of your employees how to use it. Having a contract that requires you pay off old hardware before purchasing new can severely affect a small business’ cash flow, so when evaluating financing plans look for companies that offer the ability to refresh the technology you have by replacing old hardware and software with newer versions. Some plans offer to purchase back your existing equipment before leasing you a new asset. It is also beneficial to investigate which plans include environmentally-friendly disposal of your old technology. These features are more commonly found in financing plans that come from the technology provider itself.
Request an adjustable lifecycle
Most technology has a suggested lifecycle, based on the optimal time to refresh your system and services. While these suggestions are usually accurate and timed to when new products are set to be released, it is still important to have the ability to refresh when you feel it is necessary. Your IT and business needs may not change on the same timeline as your technology. Unpredictable events can happen, so look for a product suite that will offer an adjustable lifecycle to fit the needs of your small business.
Decide what to finance
Lastly, it is important for you to dictate what you want to finance and what you are prepared to pay for upfront. Implementation, servicing and maintenance costs can all be incorporated into your financing plans, lowering the cost of ownership while giving you time to establish your business and optimize the return on investment (ROI) of your solution. Find a plan that allows you to bundle operating, maintenance, service solutions, technology migration, sales and leaseback services, depending on your needs.
To learn more about what Cisco offers SMB’s, visitour website.
They say communication is the key to success in a relationship, and that rule certainly applies to the relationship between business owners and their employees and customers. Collaborative technology solutions facilitate that communication through a variety of channels that include voice, conference calls, instant messaging, video conferencing, enterprise social software, and mobile applications. Cisco’s collaboration tools allow employees to be less dependent on physical presence and travel, and be more productive and responsive to the needs of customers and partners. This results in better customer service and an efficient, more innovative workforce.
So, how do you decide what’s right for you? When looking to deploy collaboration solutions, there are four questions all small business owners must ask.
What products and services do you offer?
Collaboration is a broad term, and can include services such as Unified Communications, Cisco IWE, Jabber, and TelePresence. It’s important that small business owners are aware of the various types of technology under the collaboration umbrella and any integration limitations for each. Look ahead and consider emerging technologies, as implementing video collaboration services may differentiate your company from competitors. And some industries, like healthcare, have industry-specific security requirements your collaboration solution must support.
How does your solution support employee devices?
Once you’ve chosen what collaborative products you want your employees to use, you have to consider how they will access them. As more employees purchase their own smartphones and tablets, how these devices are supported becomes paramount in the “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) movement. A small business collaboration solution that works with all devices can deliver greater mobile productivity benefits than one oriented to a single manufacturer or desktop systems. So look for a collaboration solution, such as the Cisco BE 6000 that works with mobile devices and desktop computers from any device manufacturer, any operating system and any wired or wireless network location.
How secure are your products?
When selecting a single collaboration service or suite of services, especially with a cloud delivery service model, small business owners need to ensure that there are adequate security precautions in place. Too often small businesses use consumer technology not designed to meet their security needs. Ask about the security of their solutions, and work with your technology partner to define policies and procedures to secure your collaboration services. Look for ways to control who can access your wired and wireless networks, how servers and confidential data will be protected and how you will control remote access from any device while ensuring the security of sensitive or confidential communications.
How much will it cost?
This is a big issue for a small business, it is imperative to implement a collaboration solution that integrates with your existing IT investments because costs are reduced when you can build on top of previous applications. How will the products you’re considering integrate into your current environment? Will additional costs be incurred if customized solutions are required? And don’t be afraid to ask about the Return on Investment (ROI) of the solution. While the initial setup cost for collaboration may be expensive, the service will reduce business expenses such as long distance, utility costs and travel expenses.
It’s important to know the answers to all of these questions before you decide on the collaboration solution that’s right for your small business.
Do you have other questions that SMBs should ask before choosing collaboration technologies? List them in the comments below!
For more of our four-part series on small business technology, read my post on how to find the right financing plan for your business. And for more small business technology solutions, visit our website.