With high level benefits such as cost savings, increased ease of use and
flexible communications management on offer from today's more advanced Voice
over IP and converged communications solutions, most SMBs with aging
infrastructures are strongly considering the consolidation of their voice
and data networks into a single more capable environment.

"Although numerous solutions exist today, a company of between eight and 48
employees looking for a converged networking device need not look any
further than what's on offer from Cisco's Unified Communications 500 series
of devices for small business," says Marius Vermeulen, Cisco technical
specialist at Tarsus Technologies
"The Unified Communications 500 (or UC500 for short) is an affordable
appliance that provides voice, data, voicemail, automated attendant, video,
security, and wireless capabilities while integrating with existing desktop
applications such as calendar, e-mail, and customer relationship management
(CRM) packages," he says.
"On the data front, it includes all of the routing, switching, firewalling
and security functionality an SMB could require today; and on the voice
front, it's also a digital PABX and voicemail server that supports up to 50
users and flexible deployment options based on what the customer's needs
"It supports a wide array of both IP and PSTN phones and a number of
different Internet connectivity options, and through the addition of a
wireless module to the device, it can become a secure wireless access
point."The UC500 incorporates all of the converged networking infrastructure
that a company of between eight and 48 users would require today.
"I truly believe that the UC500 offers exceptional value for money and
completeness of functionality that would be difficult to match," he adds.