While it may not qualify as a household name, Linksys is definitely associated with casual home networking rather than the buttoned-down world of business computing. But now the company includes a dedicated focus on small business with its Linksys Connected Office, a program designed to make it easier and more affordable to buy, build and manage networks.
The term "small business" covers a lot of territory. It ranges from sole proprietor to companies with scores of employees and all the permutations in between. The lofty goal behind Connected Office is to address the networking needs of that diverse group.
Some SMB owners fall into the do-it-yourself category. They want to choose, build and manage their own communications network in-house. Others prefer to partner with experienced outside VARs or hosted solution partners either initially or on a long-term basis. According to David Tucker, vice president at Linksys, Connected Office serves both groups.
"The Business Series line offers the small business consumer individual point products for their networking needs," said Tucker. "We offer a trusted brand and support for small businesses that lack IT staff."
Linksys One offers small businesses what the company calls a total solution. "Working through a VAR, a small business can receive one complete network solution where all the products work together and can be managed through a single interface," said Tucker.
In addition, Tucker said, SMBs that require more complex solutions, such as VoIP telephone or hosted e-mail services, can purchase customized, Lynksys One solutions through hosted service providers, who will then manage those applications, leaving the business owner to focus on the business, not the technology. "It's more of a marriage between the service provider and the customer," said Tucker. "Think of it as hardware components plus services."
The Connected Office offers a complete line of networking products within the following categories: wired and wireless routers, VPN solutions, Power over Ethernet, unmanaged switches, managed switches, smart switches, network storage, adapters, cameras and the Linksys Voice System.
And while the Business Series products differ from the Linksys One products, many of them are what the company refers to as Linksys One-ready, which means that if you grow into or decide to move into a Linksys One solution, you won't have to replace those Business Series hardware components.
Tucker pointed out that scalability is a vital issue for small businesses, and that one advantage Linksys offers is that it is owned by Cisco, an enterprise-networking leader. "Companies that grow beyond the Connected Office can easily move into our Cisco line of networking solutions."
Where to Buy
You won't find Linksys Connected Office products sitting on retail shelves next to one of the company's consumer-oriented Wireless-G Game Adapters. Linksys sells these through its network of certified partners and VARs, such as CDW, TigerDirect.com and others. This page on the Web site lists its partners and service providers that sell Connected Office products, and it also provides a link to help you find local VARs.
Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com
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