Cisco Updates Small Business Networking Gear

Cisco is expanding its push to attract more small business professionals to its networking gear. This week Cisco announced a new set of 200-series switches and a new router platform that adds several big-business features tailored for the needs of small business.

The small business product expansion is part of a multi-year effort from Cisco. In 2010, Cisco launched the unmanaged 100 series and the 300 series Linux-powered switch families.

The new 200-series switch family is intended to fill the gap between the unmanaged 100 series and fully managed 300 series. Cisco Product Manager Brad Sakai told that the 200 series delivers switches that are what Cisco refers to as “smart” or lightly managed switches. As opposed to the 100 series switches, 200 series users get Quality of Service (QoS) and VLAN capabilities. The 200 series also includes support for the next generation IPv6 Internet addressing protocol.

In contrast, Sakai explained that the 300 series provides more granular QoS control as well as additional authentication and configuration options.

With the new RV220W network security firewall, Cisco expands on the capabilities that it debuted in the RV120W Wireless-N VPN Firewall in 2010. As opposed to the RV120W, the RV220W has four gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, while the older RV120W has four 100 Mbps LAN ports.

Wireless speed is also improved on the RV220W with dual-band support for both 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz, by way of 2×3 MIMO technology.

“The RV120W supports up to 120 Mbps with two antennas, while the RV220W has a third antenna hidden behind the front panel that helps boost speed and coverage,” Sakai said. “You can do a max of 250 Mbps, so it’s a step up in terms of speed and coverage.”

The RV220W also provides both IPsec and SSLVPN remote access to small business users.

“SSL-VPN allows you to do VPN without a client so you use your browser, point it at the router, and then you can login and establish a VPN with SSL encryption,” Sakai said. “It makes VPN deployments for small business that much easier.”

The benefit of not requiring a client for VPN access means that a small business professional could use any machine with a Web browser to access their network. Sakai noted that SSL-VPN is often an easier technology to deploy than IPsec which can sometimes be a challenge.

“It’s just one of those enterprise features that is trickling down,” Sakai said. “SSL-VPN is now for everyone, it’s not just an enterprise feature.”

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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