Cisco Virtual Office package targets teleworkers

Bundle of gear and services is designed to streamline home-office deployments

Cisco is announcing a bundle of gear and services aimed at helping companies design and install remote-site communications that replicate the connectivity workers have when they're located in corporate sites.

Called Cisco Virtual Office (CVO), the package includes IP phones and multiservice routers to be placed in home offices or branch offices and linked to corporate headquarters. CVO also includes the gear necessary to support the remote sites from headquarters. Design and implementation services, along with remote management and security-optimization services, round out the deal.

Cisco is not alone in packaging bundles for small offices. Alcatel-Lucent, for instance, earlier this year announced its Office Communication Solution 2008, creating a package of its gear to combine IP voice and data in small offices.

CVO consists of existing Cisco gear: 800 Series ISR routers, 7900 Series phones, 7200 Series VPN aggregation router, Cisco Security Manager, Cisco Secure ACS RADIUS server and a configuration engine. The components are sold at standard prices, but include some software designed just for CVO.

This software is aimed at making the user experience similar to that in a LAN-connected environment. The remote router establishes a VPN tunnel that is always accessible to the user's laptop, so there is no need to fire up a VPN client. Phones are configured so they ring whenever the worker’s extension is called. If a worker has a corporate office and home office, the phone rings in both..

Cisco says CVO can encourage businesses to promote working from home to support such green initiatives as reducing the amount of gasoline employees burn getting to work. Working from home can also increase productivity by cutting out employee commuting time and improve morale because workdays are more flexible.

The company says that CVO will be expanded later to include wide-area optimization, mobility and video.

CVO can be implemented for $700 to $1,000 per seat for 250 users, Cisco says.

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