Linksys Returns to Its SMB Networking Roots

Monday Mar 31st 2014 by Pedro Hernandez
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Now a part of Belkin, and with new wireless access points and smart switches in tow, Linksys gears up for a major push into professional networking products for small businesses.

Linksys, a subsidiary of device maker Belkin, returns to its roots as a provider of small business networking products after a decade as Cisco's consumer networking division.

But first: a little history lesson. Computer networking giant Cisco acquired Linksys back in 2003 for $500 million. The brand, with its iconic blue and black Wi-Fi routers (among other products), helped Cisco address the home networking market as consumers sought to connect a growing number of devices to the Internet, and each other, wirelessly.

Ten years, Belkin stepped in and acquired Linksys. The move, said Mike Chen, vice president of product management for Linksys, brings his division full circle. "The goal is to bring back the Linksys heritage as a whole," he told Small Business Computing, a heritage of providing business-grade networking products to small and midsized businesses (SMBs).

Linksys Wireless Small Business Networking

As part of the brand's pivot back to small business networking, the company today launched two new 802.11ac access points, Linksys AC1200 and AC1750, during the Interop conference in Las Vegas. The dual-band, IPv6-compliant access points provide businesses with up to three times the performance of 802.11n hardware. As their model numbers suggest, the AC1200 delivers data rates of up to 1,200 Mbps while the AC1750 can reach up to 1,750 Mbps.

Steven Lin, director of Linksys business products, listed the business-oriented features of his company's latest Wi-Fi products. "The Linksys Wireless-AC Access Points help provide manageable dual-band, high-speed wireless access along with Power-over-Ethernet [PoE], bridge mode for range extension and other advanced features SMBs need today," he said in a statement.

Both access points connect to the network via a Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) port, and you can configure them using the company's user-friendly Web interface or via Simple Network Management Protocol (SnMP). Security features to safeguard data include the Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA, WPA2) standard, along with other security features such as rogue AP detection, SSID to VLAN mapping and MAC access control.

You can mount the Linksys AC1200 and AC1750 units on either a wall or on the ceiling. Power over Ethernet 802.3at (PoE+) support gives buyers more installation options by eliminating the need for power adapters and wall plugs on compliant networks.

The Linksys AC1200 and AC1750 wireless access points are expected to go on sale in April for $329.99 and $379.99, respectively.

Linksys Wired Small Business Networking

On the wired networking side, the company announced six new managed switches. Soon to be available in 8-, 18- or 26-GbE port counts, the Linksys Smart Switches allow small businesses to prioritize traffic by using the built-in quality of service (QoS) features.

The 8-Port LGS308 and LGS308P with PoE+ switches also support port authentication and MAC-based port security for a hardened physical network and virtual LAN (VLAN) for remote access. The rest of the line, the 18-Port LGS318 and LGS318P with PoE+, along with the 26-port LGS326 and LGS326P with PoE+, offer much of the same functionality minus VLAN support. As expected, all of the new switches support IPv6.

The new Linksys Smart Gigabit Switches are currently shipping to distributors. Prices start at $119.99 for the 8-port LGS308 and top out at $599.99 for the 26-port LGS326P with PoE+.

To help usher the new Linksys gear into the market, the company has launched a new program called PartnerAdvantage. Starting on March 31, the free-to-join program offers channel partners a new mobile-friendly portal along with new training and sales tools and marketing support. Partners can perform deal registrations and also gain access to promotions and the company's bid program.

As PartnerAdvantage members move up the five tiers (from Basic to Platinum), they can unlock Belkin incentives, including market development funds, back-end rebates and on-site training. Previous resellers must register with the new program to sell Linksys and/or Belkin devices.

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

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