Cisco Buys PostPath to Compete with Microsoft Exchange

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2008-08-27

Cisco Systems is heading into a big-time "co-opetition" to handle enterprise e-mail against a longtime partner, Microsoft, thanks to the Aug. 27 acquisition of privately held PostPath.

Cisco will pay a total of $215 million for PostPath and expects to close the deal in Cisco's first quarter of fiscal year 2009.

PostPath will provide the final piece to the puzzle of Cisco's new unified WebEx Connect collaboration platform, a subscription- and cloud-based business suite hosted by Cisco.  At this early point, Cisco is not planning to market the PostPath product separately.

WebEx Connect is a SAAS (software-as-a-service)-based collaborative platform that includes instant messaging, voice, video, data, document management and Web 2.0 applications. PostPath will supply the e-mail and calendaring features.

PostPath uses augmented open-source software and an optional appliance that plugs directly into a data center to offer a lower-cost alternative to Microsoft Exchange, long known as one of the most complicated business software packages that IT personnel handle.
One Microsoft reseller told me during an interview that "Exchange is simply a beast. Everybody knows it; no question about it. If there's any way to make it easier to use, let's see it."

Cisco is going to give people a chance to do that. PostPath's e-mail user interface has the same look and feel of Exchange.

PostPath also allows access to the email database from mobile devices, including iPhones and Blackberrys.

PostPath's software is highly secure and scalable, and it incorporates new Web 2.0 architectures to meet the requirements of large enterprises and small businesses alike to provide a next-generation e-mail system.

PostPath is Linux-based, uses AJAX and virtual snapshots and is VMware-friendly, Duncan Greatwood, CEO of PostPath, told me in an interview recently.

Cisco Senior Vice President Doug Dennerline said in the news announcement that "the acquisition of PostPath complements our strategy to develop an integrated collaboration platform designed for how we work today and into the future, providing real productivity gains and a more satisfying user experience. Our -cloud-based' delivery model offers our customers rapid deployment and compelling economics."

The full WebEx Connect online service package will be available in September.

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