More Services, Software On

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-10-05 Print this article Print

the Web"> For its part, AT&T, of San Antonio, is buying Internet-based conferencing and collaboration software provider Interwise for $121 million and with it a bigger play in the video, Web conferencing and collaboration race against rivals Sprint Nextel, Verizon and Cisco Systems. AT&T announced the acquisition of Interwise Oct. 1. Interwise offers VOIP (voice over IP), Web and videoconferencing services for both on-premises and hosted deployment, along with a hybrid of on-site and hosted services. AT&T said it will offer these services alongside its own networking, VOIP, conferencing and collaboration services, as well as its MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching)-based IP network for businesses.
There is no shortage of market opportunity for such services, which businesses often use in conjunction with e-mail, instant messaging, presence and other collaboration tools to help their employees work together on tasks. Research company Frost & Sullivan said the market for audio, Web and videoconferencing will be worth $5.9 billion through 2007, with growth continuing into 2008.
The added utilities will help AT&T better reach the lucrative market opportunity selling into enterprises that the phone companies and other technology providers crave. Sprint Nextel and Verizon are also offering audio, Web and video­conferencing for their business customers. "Were really excited about having Interwise as part of the company because they are one of the only ones to offer premise[s]-based collaboration, network-based collaboration or a hybrid solution," allowing users to collaborate across both environments, said Steve Sobolevitch, AT&Ts vice president of business development. IDC analyst Robert Mahowald said the deal is a step up for AT&Ts enterprise business, which has strong, hosted audio conferencing but lacks on-premises services and has relied on reseller agreements for Web conferencing to this point. "As they try to grow their enterprise business larger and larger toward [broader] Web collaboration, this gives them a development platform," Mahowald told eWeek. "It gives them some customers, but it also gives them a platform that they can actually play with as opposed to Microsofts or Ciscos, which they were just reselling." To be sure, phone companies are far from the only technology providers interested in Web collaboration. Microsoft and IBM have been carving out such packages through their SharePoint and Lotus portfolios, respectively, as part of broader unified communications strategies. Adobe Systems and Citrix Systems also play in the Web conferencing space. Cisco, of San Jose, Calif., lent spirit to the hunt in March with its bid to buy WebEx for $2.9 billion. But most acquisitions in this space are fill-in-the-gap deals, such as IBMs Aug. 22 deal to buy on-demand Web conferencing software maker WebDialogs. "The way these independent companies are flying off the shelves, I dont even know whos left to buy," Mahowald said. Should the deal close in the fourth quarter as AT&T expects, Interwise will operate as a business unit within AT&Ts $35 billion Global Business Services group, which is led by Group President Ronald E. Spears. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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