Cisco Systems is rolling out new products, programs and partner deals in the area of unified communications and collaboration as it grabs for more control of what Cisco officials say is a $34 billion space. The move comes two weeks after HP and Microsoft announced a four-year, $180 million deal involving joint products, sales and marketing of UC and collaboration technology.
is pushing forward its unified communications and
collaboration agenda with a spate of new appliance, collaboration and partner
offerings, looking to grab hold of a market that company officials say is at
Cisco's move comes just weeks after Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft at Interop
on May 19 unveiled a four-year,
$180 million UC and collaboration strategy
of their own, a move that one
Cisco official said merely further validates Cisco's own initiatives.
"The HP/Microsoft expanded alliance confirms what Cisco and our channel
partners have known for years ... the network is critical," Keith Goodwin,
Cisco's senior vice president of worldwide channels,
said in a May 29 blog
post. "This expanded alliance also acknowledges that interoperability is
key because data, voice and video are all important factors of Unified
Communications and collaboration. This news only serves to solidify our
commitment to deliver-with our channel partners-an open, interoperable solution
with companies like Microsoft, Apple and IBM."
Cisco, which is hosting its annual Partner Summit June 2 to 4 in Boston,
announced several new products June 1 designed to extend its reach in the UC
and collaboration space. Its low-end Unified IP Phone 6900 Series promises
greater energy efficiency through its deep-sleep mode, while its Unified
Videoconferencing 7.0 platform is designed for high-definition video
Cisco also is creating two community sites to enable partners and customers
to collaborate. The Collaboration
is a way for users of Cisco's UC, Telepresence and WebEx
products to communicate with the company's executives and technicians, get a
jump on upcoming products and learn best practices. The Collaboration Partner
Community is an interactive online environment for partners.
In addition, Cisco has several partner programs based around licensing and
Richard McLeod, senior director of worldwide channels at Cisco, said the demand
for UC products is increasing as businesses look for ways to reduce travel
costs and other expenses. The demand will only increase as the worldwide
economy improves, he said.
"As we enter the upturn, globalization, consolidation and innovation
will emerge as the major business imperatives, with collaboration as the key
enabler," McLeod said in a statement.
The deal between HP and Microsoft is an expansion of the companies'
Frontline Partnership, and the $180 million initiative will cover everything
from new products to professional services to joint sales and marketing
efforts, according to the two companies.
Cisco's Goodwin said in his blog that a key difference between his company
and the joint HP-Microsoft strategy is that Cisco offers a more integrated and
complete collaboration platform.
"Time will tell if HP and Microsoft's joint $180 million investment
will be enough in terms of development and integration to fix the holes in
their combined portfolio," he wrote. "This leaves customers to decide
if they want to wait for a combined solution from HP/Microsoft or deploy a
proven, interoperable Unified Communications solution from Cisco today."