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Cisco launches small-biz switches

The small-business market continues to receive increased attention from the internetworking kingpin with two new lines of Catalyst switches.

The small-business market continues to receive increased attention from inter-networking kingpin Cisco Systems (CSCO).

The company launched two new product lines of Catalyst switches--the 1900 and 2820 Standard Edition switches--that complement previously released Enterprise Editions of the switches.

There's no secret to Cisco's small-business focus. As reported recently, companies are increasingly turning to the small- and medium-sized business sector for growth. Industry consultant Forrester Research completed a study that pegged the number of businesses with 5 to 100 employees at almost 10 million, a huge opportunity for the likes of Cisco.

The 1900 Standard Edition switch line comes in 12- and 24-port 10MB/sec Ethernet versions. The 2820 switch offers 24 Ethernet ports with two modular slots to support Fast Ethernet, FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface), or ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode) interfaces.

The new switches are available immediately with per-port prices starting at $74.

Analysts said the pricing by Cisco represents an attempt by the company to hasten the move from shared media hubs--a niche rival 3Com dominates--to dedicated switching hardware. The cost of the new switches makes the decision a "no brainer," according to Esmerelda Silva, an analyst with International Data Corporation.

"It's obviously going after 3Com," she said.

The launch follows the September release of Enterprise Editions of the Catalyst switch lines, which included advanced IOS software features. The Standard Edition switches can be upgraded to Enterprise Edition models through a software kit that costs $700.