There are almost 28 million small businesses in the US which have generated over 65% of the net new jobs since 1995. Of those with websites, the average annual revenue was $5.03 million. With those statistics in mind, how do you build an infrastructure to support growth through it’s first 5 years and beyond? How are these small businesses integrating the various components of a network together such as wireless, VoIP, and security?*

I will admit, my first thoughts were to always go with the Catalyst line of switches. Just recently I became aware of Cisco’s Small Business 500 Series switches. These are Switching hardware intended for smaller businesses (SMB) on a limited budget, but this is without sacrificing the technologies you typically see in the Catalyst switches. In my current environment, I see many areas with incorrectly sized switches. It’s an extra cost the organization could have spent elsewhere. The 500 Series switches are perfect replacements for hardware over-sized and over priced for an environment.
Why should we pay attention to the Cisco Small Business 500 switching line? It sports features that are a must have with today’s networks. For the management team, it’s affordable hardware which can be bought for under $1,000. Compare that cost to a Catalyst 2960 – the big brother to the Cisco 500 – which can cost over $2,000 for Power over Ethernet. It’s built on reliability with features such as stacking – a feature many of us are familiar with on the Catalyst 3750s. The Cisco 500 can be placed in your infrastructure and support a growing business as you add more devices and users. It’s compatible with other Cisco technologies such as Cisco phones and wireless access points. Built into the Cisco 500 are “profiles” which automatically detect these devices and configure ports for their purpose.
This is a right-sized switch for small and medium business. It fits budgets and is easy to configure for small IT staff.
The following is not an exhaustive list of features but a list of highlights which fit right in with small and medium businesses:
  • Power over Ethernet (PoE)
    • To support VoIP phones
    • Wireless access points
  • High Availability
    • Stacking capabilities
    • 10Gig capabilities!
    • Virtual Router Redundancy Protocol (VRRP) capable
  • Management
    • Cisco Discovery Protocol (CDP)
    • Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP)
    • Web interface to manage switch
    • Command line interface available – another option for management (TextView)
  • Smartports
    • Automatically configured for Quality of Service (QoS) – when a phone is plugged in
    • Desktops – automatically configure PortFast
    • Wireless access points
  • IPv6 Support – it’s here already!
  • Security
    • Access control lists (ACLs)
    • Time based ACLs
    • Guest VLANs
    • Supports Radius and TACACS+
  • Bonjour support
    • With Apple products in more environments it is becoming apparent to support Bonjour to allow features such as AirPlay.
The Cisco Small Business 500 Series switches are perfect for SMB and their budgets. At a lower cost, you aren’t sacrificing the features. The switch itself packs many features an enterprise would deploy. The 500 Series switching line is poised perfectly for a growing business and adds simplification to deployment and management for the smaller IT department.