Skype, Citrix Partner on Business Collaboration Offering

Skype will integrate Citrix's GoToMeeting offering into its enterprise collaboration solution as it continues to court the business world.

Skype is continuing its push to become a larger player in the business world via a partnership with Citrix Systems.

At the Enterprise Connect 2011 show in Orlando, Fla., March 1, the two companies announced that Citrix will integrate its GoToMeeting online collaboration software with Skype's video- and audio-conferencing offerings. Skype will be adding the Citrix feature to its Skype Enterprise Desktop offering toward the end of the year, according to company officials.

Skype officials have been looking to find ways to earn more money from its popular online conferencing technology. The company began life playing solely in the consumer field, with the bulk of its 145 million or so users making their Skype calls for free. The company is looking to leverage its strength on the consumer side to gain traction in the highly competitive corporate collaboration space.

Skype has to vie with a number of larger rivals, including Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, IBM and Polycom, as enterprises look to online collaboration as a way to save money in such areas as travel while increasing employee productivity. Bringing Citrix's GoToMeeting solution on board will enable Skype to compete with the likes of Cisco's WebEx. It will enable Skype users to not only connect via video and audio online, but also share documents.

Such technologies are becoming increasingly important in the business world, and Skype is well-positioned to take advantage of that, according to David Gurle, vice president and general manager of Skype Enterprise, who announced the Citrix partnership during his keynote at Enterprise Connect.

"Technology is changing the way we do business," Gurle said in a blog post March 1. "Employees are bringing their own technology into the workplace, mobility is creating a lot more flexibility than ever to be wherever you want to be to get work done, and the advent of cloud-based computing is also breaking down barriers and enabling people to communicate, access information, and be more productive in new and powerful ways. This is the new way of doing things in business."

Skype is leading this business trend, he said.

"Business is about 'doing' and 'doing' is about collaboration, and that is what Skype is all about," Gurle said. "Skype creates connected ecosystems of colleagues, clients, vendors, and partners."

Skype spent much of 2010 building up its business capabilities. In May, the company unveiled Skype Manager, which enables up to five people to participate in a Skype call, a move that helped it counter the video-conferencing capabilities of Cisco, HP, Polycom and others. Skype Connect 1.0, brought out of beta in August 2010, enables IP-PBX and UC (unified communications) systems to connect to Skype.

In addition, Skype and Avaya in September 2010 announced a UC partnership, and in January, Skype unveiled its new Skype Business client for Windows, which includes group video calling.