Cisco is creating a single engineering team and single channel partner program for its Cisco and Linksys brands, as IT Business Edge and other publications reported last week.
The announcement seemed a little light on details, though it noted that the Linksys brand won't go away entirely (at least not yet). I found more information in a Network World item that answered a few of my questions. As explained by Andrew Sage, Cisco's VP of worldwide small business sales, it sounds as if the Linksys gear will be targeted toward the consumer market and the lower end of the SMB market. Linksys will carry a lower price tag, but will come with fewer support and configurability options.
[Linksys] is more on demand and transactional, and [Cisco] is more solution oriented. But we are combining them both into a single portfolio that we believe is the broadest portfolio out there.
As many as 20,000 Linksys resellers are expected to join the "registered" tier of Cisco's channel program, which has traditionally been populated with resellers testing out Cisco products and/or those that didn't specialize in networking but had a sales opportunity with a networking component. While former Linksys resellers won't be expected to complete as much formal training as other Cisco partners, notes Network World, they also won't receive as many partner benefits.
Last July I wrote (erroneously, as it turned out) that Cisco would eliminate the Linksys brand. This observation was based on comments from Cisco CEO John Chambers. A year later, it appears the company may be rethinking the single-name strategy. Keeping the Linksys name for now should allow Cisco to delineate clearly between its consumer and SMB solutions. Both brands have a strong reputation with these respective audiences. The Linksys name will still likely fade away, but slowly.