The State of SMB networking Part 3 - Netgear

Facing a dual assault from Cisco and Linksys, how does SMB specialist Netgear respond? Ian Yates interview series continues.

PREVIOUSLY: Linksys and the Cisco connection

Another player in the SMB networking market is Netgear, whose Ryan Parker answers Ian Yates on whether Cisco's small business moves has the company worried.

IY: You must have heard that Cisco has once again decided that it's going to rush in and play in your small business play pen? Are you worried?

Ryan Parker (RP): Cisco is a worthy adversary and there is no doubt about that. I wouldn't say worried is the correct term. I would probably say that we are cautious and that we will be taking their announcement quite seriously. But as far as Netgear is concerned it is business as usual.

IY: I do notice that they are claiming to have been able to jam some of their enterprise clever tricks into their smaller lower cost items but what do you see from your market? Do you see small business guys clambering for these wiz-bang enterprise features or do they just want a basic box that works?

RP: Generally speaking what you've just said about people wanting a basic box that works, you pretty much have hit the nail on the head. If you look at Netgear historically, Cisco are sort of following a similar model to what we did in that we took a lot of enterprise type technology and led the integration of that into products that would meet an SMB price point. If you go back in history a bit Gigabit was probably the classic example and followed on by probably G-Wireless in the small business space. We took those two products that were really the domain of Cisco, Nortels and 3Com and brought them into a product at a price point that the average business could afford. From that point of view I guess they are emulating something that we have already been doing for a long time and when you talk about a good box reliably at the right price, another example of that is probably the switching space. Netgear pretty much identified about eighteen months ago that relatively speaking the average small business user only uses about somewhere between fifty and eighty percent of the features of a switch. As a result we released what we call our Smart Switch range which sits somewhere between the unmanaged switch which is the dumb switch that you plug in and everything just happens, but below the layer two layer three switching which gives you all the niceties of an enterprise one. Something that we've done very well is we've been able to create a product range that fits specifically into that space and still includes some of the key technologies that businesses want that come out of the enterprise space. If Cisco is successful in achieving that, getting that mix right, then they are definitely a significant adversary.

IY: You do offer some of those enterprise tricks I know, you offer things like VPN and so on.

RP: VPN was an enterprise type technology but the small business is using a lot of VPN these days. Even if it is as simple as a two or three person office where they work remotely and they are using some sort of VPN to get to their files.

IY: What is this with the new warranty on your Prosafe series?

RP: We've gone to lifetime warranty which is a long time. The reason we went down that path is, like Cisco wanting to move down into our space, we want to move into the edge of the enterprise space. Basically what we are doing as a strategy is partnering with organisations that have complimentary networking technologies to our own where we can put a play to the enterprise whereby you have someone like a Fortinet which provides equivalent switching infrastructure to Cisco at the core of the network. And then on the edge you can deploy a Netgear solution. Mix and match because it is all standards based. Then the ongoing benefit from a reseller and a customer's point of view is that they can make savings on the costs of deployment through the hardware but also the support services that you wrap around it as well. Part of that strategy was making sure that we offered a lifetime warranty so that when we went into those opportunities particularly when we are talking about our worthy adversary HP Procurve, that we were able to offer an apple for an apple solution.

NEXT: D-Link's view


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