Cisco Gets Serious about Collaboration
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Author: Jim Lundy
Topics: Collaboration, Social Software
Issues: Who are the collaboration providers and how will they evolve?
How will Social Software technologies evolve?
Summary: On November 16th, Cisco announced enhancements to its Collaboration Portfolio, including Video, Social, Mobile and Presence that position it to compete against Microsoft in mainstream workplace settings.
Event: At its Partner and Analyst Event in Miami Beach, Florida, Cisco announced new versions of its Jabber Presence Engine, an HD version of WebEx and a series of video conferencing options for its Telepresence family, including the ability to conduct an HD Video Conference on PCs and Macs or mobile devices. It also featured customers that discussed their deployments of both Video and its Social product, Cisco Quad.
Analysis: Cisco’s efforts in Collaboration often get overshadowed by its core networking offerings, but with these announcements Cisco now offers a full mobile enabled Collaboration Suite, less email. Cisco has made Mobile access a priority, and they demonstrated a compelling set of capabilities with live hands-on with iOS and Android devices (along with their Cius tablet).
Cisco showcased customers that were using or deploying its Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) platform, Cisco Quad, an offering that was announced in 2009. While it is notable that Cisco Quad is deployed worldwide within Cisco, deployments by enterprises have been slow to materialize. Cisco indicated that a number of enterprises are beginning to evaluate its social networking offering. Cisco also demonstrated that its Business Units are leveraging each other’s offerings, which enterprises will benefit from: Cisco’s Call Center Software is now based on Cisco Quad. It leverages Quad’s App plug-in architecture.
In Video, besides updating WebEx to support full 720P HD video, Cisco is expanding access to its HD video Telepresence offering with a PC and Mac client called Cisco Jabber Video for TelePresence. Pricing for this TelePresence Service (Cisco TelePresence for Small and Medium Businesses) looks attractive and enterprises will need to balance this offering vs. the video capabilities that are bundled with WebEx.
Cisco is also enhancing its flagship Jabber Presence engine and Instant Messaging Application with full access from mobile devices and a new SDK that allows it to be enabled from browser based apps. Cisco will also support developers with its Jabber Developer Program.
While Cisco has offered Presence and Instant Messaging for several years (WebEx Connect), it is now positioning the Jabber brand as the main desktop and mobile client tool for Presence, IM and access to WebEx, Voice and video sessions.
Aragon Research feels that Presence is critical to connecting people for collaboration and for speeding up business processes and work in general. Mobile presence is also a growing area of interest and need for enterprises.
Planning Assumption: By YE 2015, a majority of commercial Presence Engines will be based on the XMPP protocol.
Looking at its combined offerings (Jabber, WebEx, Quad and its Telepresence (Video) capability), Cisco is positioned to take on Microsoft, IBM and Google in enterprise Collaboration, either in the Cloud or on-premise.
Given the amount of money enterprises pay to Microsoft and others for workplace software, Cisco’s collaboration platform now offers enterprises a compelling alternative.
Aragon Advisory: Enterprises need to begin looking at their collaboration and communication needs strategically, and that should include Video as well as Enterprise Social Networking.
Enterprises should evaluate Cisco as a Collaboration supplier.
Developers should evaluate using the Jabber SDK.