Cisco has an unsurpassed reputation for quality and support. As the saying goes, “No one ever gets fired for buying Cisco”, or so one might say to justify the expense of going with the top brand. Since the acquisition of Linksys, the mingling of product lines and most of all, listening to their customers, Cisco is plowing it’s way into the small business with a premium product at a very affordable price.
Although a relatively late entrant into the small business PBX market, Cisco has developed a complete “small business in a box” style approach to both voice and data. The Cisco Smart Business Communication System, or SBCS, is a group of Cisco products that are tightly integrated to create a unified communications system for your small business.
The Cisco SBCS range consists of the UC500 unified communications appliance, a range of high quality managed network switches, the widest range of IP telephones of any manufacturer, network routers and a host of integrated software applications.
Overview of the SBCS Components
Cisco UC500 Series
The Cisco UC500 series appliance is the “heart” of the Cisco Small Business Communications System. It provides the Unified Communications system, with direct connection to the telephone network and SIP trunking. It’s a smart little box, with the following features:
- Multiple PSTN connectivity options:
- Up to 12 analog FXO ports for connecting to regular telephone lines
- Up to 6 BRI ISDN ports
- Up to 2 T1/E1 ports (either PRI or CAS)
- Expansion (VWIC) module allows you to add more ports later
- Built-in 8-Port 802.3af Power over Ethernet switch to power your IP phones (UC520/UC540 only)
- 802.11b/g wireless networking (Some UC520 models and all UC540 models)
- Expandable as your business grows:
- 8 to 48 users (UC520)
- 8 to 32 users (UC540)
- 16 to 104 users (UC560)
In later articles in this series, we will cover more of the features available in the UC500 range.
You can see all the UC500 series appliances on our website.
Cisco ESW500 Series Network Switches
Cisco has developed a specialized range of network switches for the SBCS with many of the features found in much higher end switches. The whole range is managed from inside the Cisco Configuration Assistant (more about this later), making management of things like Quality of Service very easy.
The ESW500 series has many different models depending on your requirements. The available configurations include switches with 8, 24 and 48 ports of 10/100Mbps Fast Ethernet with two 10/10/1000 Gigabit uplink ports as well as 8, 24 and 48 port 10/100/1000 Gigabit switches, also with two 10/100/1000 Gigabit uplink ports. The 8 and 24 port models all have the option of 802.3af Power over Ethernet support, which is perfect for powering your Cisco IP phones.
The option to be administer by the Cisco Configuration Assistant makes the ESW Series the best choice for SBCS deployments. The numerous models and differences will be covered in more detail later in our SBCS series.
Cisco 500 Series Secure Router
The Cisco SR500 series offer a firewall, an intrusion prevention system (IPS), content filter, VPN (both IPSec and SSL) and a 4-port 10/100 switch. If you need a router or firewall or have been thinking of adding IPS or VPN features to your network, the 500 Series Secure Routers are the ideal option. Cisco’s credential for solid security systems aside, simplify your life configuring and managing your new system using one feature-full console in CCA.
Cisco offers the 500 Series Secure Router with WAN connectivity via Fast Ethernet, ADSL and ADSL over ISDN, each with an optional 802.11b/g wireless access point.
Cisco AP 500 Series Wireless Access Points
If you need to add basic 802.11b/g wireless networking to your SBCS network with a single access point, you’ve got the option of adding it to either the UC500 or the Secure Router. If you need the newer 802.11n, or to add several access points for coverage or throughput or need advanced access point features, then the Cisco AP 541N is the only choice.
The AP 541N makes it easy to set up and maintain multiple wireless access points without the need to invest in an expensive wireless controller, making it ideal for growing small businesses that have high bandwidth wireless needs and large coverage areas.
Like the other parts of the Cisco SBCS, the AP541N is designed for combined voice and data, with seamless roaming between access points and automated quality of service features.
Like it’s SBCS sister products, the AP 500 Series can be configured with CCA.
Cisco SPA500 Series Phones
These low-cost SIP phones are the evolution of the very solid Linksys SPA line. They build upon the success of the SPA900 series phones, adding wideband audio codec support and a higher quality speakerphone, among other features.
There are 7 models of SPA 500 and one attendant console, all are an ideal fit for the small business budget. In a later article in this series, we’ll take you through the whole range and explain the differences between the models as well as the feature set of this range.
You can view the full range of Cisco SPA500 phones on our website.
Cisco 7900 Series Unified IP Phones
The Cisco 7900 Series are the long-running series of mid to high-end IP phones with an incredible depth in make and function.
In addition to several desktop IP phone models in this range, there are also two 802.11g wireless models, the 7921G and 7925G as well as two conference phones, the IP Conference Station 7936 and the 7937G.
The 7900 series also has two attendant consoles, the 7915 and 7916.
Cisco Configuration Assistant (CCA)
One feature all of the above products share is the ability to be configured and maintained using a single desktop application, the Cisco Configuration Assistant (CCA).
Cisco boasts that the CCA allows a user to get a fully functioning UC500 system up and operating in under 30 minutes. In addition to configuration of SBCS components, the CCA features a dashboard with an incredible number of features including, but certainly not limited to, monitoring SBCS devices, managing add-on software, system updates and detailed use reporting. The CCA is a free download for registered Cisco.com users.
Cisco Office Manager
Cisco Office Manager is a software application designed for the site administrator of a SBCS. This software offers management of user settings, phone system features, viewing status info and even viewing video from one of the Cisco IP surveillance cameras, the Cisco PVC 2300 and the WVC 2300. The Cisco Office Manager is also a free download for registered Cisco.com users.
Putting It All Together
Among the components listed above, a UC500 system, IP phones and a Small Business Pro Support (or SmartNet) contract are all that is needed to get up and running.
A sample minimal configuration could be a UC540, 8 SPA 502Gs and add to that the Cisco 3-Year Small Business Pro Support and you have an 8-user, Cisco phone system for less than $4,000.00. It is difficult to get away with paying less than that for most other popular brands. Not only will you not get fired for buying Cisco, you’ll save your company money in the process.
Telephonyware offers the full range of Cisco Small Business Communications System products and can help you to customize a Cisco voice and data solution to your exact requirements and budget.
Be sure to check out the next article in our Cisco SBCS Series, Choosing the Right UC500 System.