Cisco to unwrap VoIP products for large businesses

Cisco Systems Inc. will unveil new products Monday that expand on its efforts to bring VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) telephony to large business customers, the company said in a brief statement this week.

Cisco will announce VoIP software and hardware products that it said will help businesses boost productivity and cut costs. The software will “take advantage of a new centralized voice services model” from Cisco, the company said.

At a briefing with the media last month, the network equipment vendor said it had gained 850 new VoIP customers during the first quarter of the year, with eight of those companies installing more than 2,000 phones each.

While that briefing addressed the service provider market, Monday’s announcement will directly target enterprise customers, the statement said.

One analyst speculated that the announcement could be a starter kit for companies who want to move into the VoIP field, but who aren’t willing to jump in completely. “Companies want a starter kit that gives them everything they need to get a small group of people going,” said Jeff Snyder, an analyst with Gartner Group Inc.

Other companies, including Alcatel SA, have launched starter kits in the last couple of months, Snyder said. “There is no obvious hole (in Cisco’s VoIP product family) that we can see right now, any more than there is for any other vendor,” he added.

Such starter kits would open up the market more, Snyder said. “There aren’t a whole lot of brand new companies opening up and needing a whole new (VoIP) system,” he said. “It’s a difficult sale to get a company to toss out their old (telephone) system which isn’t broken and replace it with a whole new architecture.”

Cisco, in San Jose, Calif., can be reached at