Cisco Systems is now offering its Quad enterprise collaboration platform as a hosted or managed service and is bringing in some partners to help with the effort.
At the Enterprise 2.0 show in Boston June 20, Cisco officials rolled out a number of announcements around its year-old Quad offering, including the upcoming release of Quad 2.5 which will include tight integration with a host of content management and instant messaging platforms from the likes of IBM, EMC and Microsoft, and a mobile application for their Cius enterprise tablet.
At the heart of the news is the new deployment models for Quad, and the partnerships Cisco will leverage to make them happen. Moving Quad to hosted and managed service models makes sense, but Cisco can't do it alone, Murali Sitaram, vice president and general manager of the company's Collaboration Software Group, said during a press and analyst briefing via TelePresence and WebEx before the announcement.
"We needed the skills of others to get this out," Sitaram said.
ACS, the services arm of Xerox, will be the first company to offer the Quad hosted and managed service in the United States and Canada, with Logicalis being the partner in the Europe and Alphawest in Australia. In addition, Cisco is partnering with consulting firm Capgemini to work with customers in their deployment of Quad, including defining use cases and goals for social collaboration, implementing the technology in their environments and ensuring the technology is getting the best use.
IDC analyst Erin Traudt said Cisco's decision to partner with the likes of ACS and Capgemini makes a lot of sense as the networking giant looks to grow its offering in the hosted and managed services arena. Traudt also pointed out that there is a vertical element to what Cisco is doing with Quad, which she said will help customers more easily adapt the social collaboration software to their specific businesses. That's an important step given that businesses in different areas will have different workflows, processes and lingo.
With a greater vertical emphasis in the social software, "you're talking the same language at that point," Traudt said in an interview with eWEEK.
Cisco officials first introduced Quad in June 2010, looking to give businesses the same communications features found in such social media environments as Facebook and MySpace-including profiles, updates, video communications, Twitter-like microblogging, people searches and auto-tagging-that employees use in their personal lives.
The partnerships and integration features in Quad 2.5 extend the ways businesses can use the technology, officials said. It also will enable companies that might not have been able to deploy Quad within their businesses a new model to consider. He said companies with 1,000 or more employees would find the hosted and managed services most beneficial.
ACS will offer access to Quad through a number of public and private cloud scenarios. ACS runs 16 data centers worldwide, and offers more than 57,000 MIPs of mainframe power and 30,000-plus servers, many of them managed remotely, according to Nagesh Kunamneni, CTO of ACS' ITO Strategy & Service Management unit. Having Quad as a hosted and managed service will make the software more accessible, he said.
"We're seeing a huge trend toward mobility," Kunamneni said during the press briefing. "Ubiquitous access to the service is becoming key."
Within Quad 2.5, Cisco is offering a better way to define and improve the relevance of content users get from their professional networks, and supports attachments and multimedia within the micro-blogging capabilities. The software also will proactively make recommendations-such as people to follow or communities to join-that are based on the user's activities or those of the people within the user's network. Quad also is available on a number of mobile devices. There already was an application for Apple's iPhone and iPad, and now there's one for Cisco's Android-based Cius.
Quad 2.5 also offers pre-built integration with EMC Documentum and Microsoft SharePoint 2007 content management platforms, as well as with IBM's Sametime 8.5.1 and Cisco Jabber instant messaging technologies.