Cisco Voice/Data Solution Aimed At Smaller Organizations

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Cisco Systems, which acknowledges its solutions have primarily targeted just the largest companies and credit unions, will roll out in January an integrated voice and data solution aimed at companies with less than 50 employees.

Called Linksys1, the integrated solution will be hosted by the respective credit union's own service provider and will be sold, deployed and supported by Cisco value-added resellers.

"A small credit union no longer has to go to several service providers for their separate voice and data needs," said Rune Olslund, industry marketing manager. "I think what will really appeal to credit unions is that it is, in fact, hosted."

The solution is branch-based, and Olsund said credit unions will be able to uninstall routers and other devices necessary to support telecommunications once Linksys1 is installed.

"This really simplifies the infrastructure," said Olslund.

Installation of Linksys1, said Olslund, can be done in less than an hour. Really?

"Really," answered Olslund. "It can be done in less than an hour by the reseller. It's extremely easy to install. It's doesn't require an IT person."

But what about cost? Olslund said the company isn't prepared yet to reveal pricing, but that a credit union would find the new solution is less expensive than the equipment they may currently own or be leasing.

"To be honest, some small guys have said that Cisco does not have time for us," conceded Olslund. "But the reseller will be the key to introducing the credit union and making sure their needs are met. If something does go wrong we stand behind that VAR with a technical assistance center and thousands of engineers available."

One lesson learned by credit unions in the Gulf States in recent months is how challenging it is to operate when telecommunications systems are destroyed and unavailable. Linksys1's telecommunications solution is Voiceover Internet Protocol (VoIP) based. Olslund said Linksys1's redundancy is dependent upon the service provider's own redundancies.

"There is no processing being done on-site," he explained. "To the extent the credit union has connectivity to the service provider, there will be availabililty."

Although the new solution will be available in January, that will be in conjunction with large providers, such as MCI. Complete U.S. coverage will be available by summer. Training will be available from Cisco.

"This will not just be a linking of delivery channels together, but all communications channels," said Olslund.

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