Cisco woos SMEs with cheap finance deal

Banks have turned their backs on small businesses looking for investment loans, so Cisco has come up with its own way to kickstart IT spending – offer zero interest credit on everything.

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Banks have turned their backs on small businesses looking for investment loans, so Cisco has come up with its own way to kickstart IT spending – offer zero interest credit on everything.

The company’s Capital EasyLease program used to apply only to products that included a Unified Communications element but from this week until at least the end of July 2010 has been extended to any small business product costing £1,000 or more, with a £200,000 maximum.

The EasyLease initiative has been around in various guises for years but the zero interest credit option across the European market is a significant change in terms of scope. To help resellers integrate Cisco products in multi-vendor deals, the financing is also available as long as Cisco products make up at least 70 percent of a total sale.

“At a time when credit is scare and cash is limited we believe many customers would benefit from upgrading now,” said Cisco’s director SMB Europe, Stanimira Koleva. And as to whether Cisco’s products are affordable on a budget, Stanmira was dismissive that the company’s high-end brand made any difference. “We are not necessarily a Rolls Royce in terms of positioning,” she said.

All good news for the channel, then, which, said had been hurting from the spending downturn. Indeep, Cisco’s EasyLease announcement was dotted with new initiatives to both attract new partners and help established resellers reach out to a segment of the market, the SMB, Cisco sees as both under-developed and potentially profitable. The SMB programme will draw from the resources of the Cisco Small Business Partner Development Fund (or ‘PDF’).

In the last year, Cisco has established a dedicated SMB business unit and continued its integration of the consumer-oriented LinkSys brand into its SMB engineering effort.

On the same tack, Cisco has extended its SMB-focused product line, introducing the CA 500 Series, a unified threat management (UTM) security appliance with email, web filtering, VPN support and a conventional firewall in one unit (from around $500 or £300). In the same family of products are new SPA 500 IP phones (from $135 or £85), and the T1 connectivity gubgins, the SR 520-T1 Secure Router. All three are meant for of 100 users of fewer, or 50 in the case of the SR-520-T1.

Customers and partners looking for more information on Cisco’s website will have to wait for a few days for an update. A company spokesperson admitted that the current information explaining the terms of EasyLease was still being revised.

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