Cisco Systems is ditching its WebEx Social initiative and instead will embrace rival Jive Software's enterprise social networking as the networking giant looks to gain better traction in the highly competitive business collaboration space.
The two companies announced May 1 that Cisco is integrating Jive's suite of social networking solutions into its unified communications (UC) offerings, such as WebEx Meetings and Jabber for online meetings and video conferences. Jive's products bring features found in consumer social networks to the business arena, including user profiles, blogs, online groups and wikis.
In addition, the vendors will jointly develop further products and integrations to expand the capabilities of the partnership. Cisco will sell the integrated solutions via its partner program.
"What really gets me excited about the Jive and Cisco integration is that we are bringing two leading collaboration and communications technology solutions together and delivering them in a single experience for our customers—one place for employees to communicate and collaborate, one place for customer communities to foster and broaden support, and one place for partners to drive business outcomes," Peder Ulander, vice president of collaboration solutions marketing at Cisco, said in a post on the company blog. "Together, we are helping our customers easily go between their real-time conversations, like instant messages, videoconferences and online meetings, with the more persistent social conversations, like blogs, discussions, wikis, posts and online groups."
The move comes as Cisco continues to navigate the competitive UC space, which includes such competitors as Microsoft with its Lync offerings, IBM, ShoreTel and a revitalized Mitel. Cisco executives have said that enterprise social networking was a key part of the puzzle—they had been pushing WebEx Social (once known as WebEx Quad) for several years, and in December 2013 bought Collaborate.com to help expand their capabilities around mobile and social collaboration.
"We see great value in providing social solutions to our customers," Ulander wrote in his blog post. "Bringing together social networking with communications technology provides people with the means to collaborate and gives them flexibility to do the best work they can."
The partnership with Jive is an indication that WebEx Social hadn't gained the traction in the market that the company had hoped it would, according to Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. It's also the latest example of Cisco executives deciding to go the partnership route as it looks to extend its capabilities.
"For Cisco, the move is interesting but consistent with the other announcements the company has made over the past year or so," Kerravala wrote in a post on the NoJitter blog site. "Cisco seems content to do what it does best, instead of throwing more resources at a market that's too established or too far afield from Cisco's core for it to win. … Instead of chasing a market filled with best-of-breed companies and some big-name software companies, partner with Jive and go focus on what the company does best."
The partnership gives Jive—which competes with the likes of Microsoft's Jammer and Sharepoint, IBM and Tibco—a significantly larger customer base.
"The opportunity to sell product through Cisco's massive global channel is certainly a boon for a company that small in comparison to the competitive field," he wrote.
Jive Chairman and CEO Tony Zingale saw the same advantages.
"Cisco is one of the most well-respected companies on the planet, with hundreds of thousands of companies leveraging their real-time communication and collaboration offerings," Zingale said in a statement. "Together, we can bring Jive's industry-leading collaboration platform to these customers, and help drive even deeper and more productive business outcomes across their employees, customers and partners."
Cisco will continue to support WebEx Social into June 2016 (for cloud environments) and June 2017 (for on-premises deployments).