Cisco Expands Jabber, TelePresence Reach

The networking vendor is extending its Jabber UC platform to iPads and Windows systems, while offering a newly designed TelePresence solution.

Cisco Systems is continuing to make its vast collaboration portfolio more like a single platform that enables users to leverage everything from a room-based TelePresence solution to a unified communications application on a tablet.

At the Enterprise Connect 2012 show March 27 in Orlando, Fla., Cisco officials unveiled the latest addition to its TelePresence video collaboration lineup and announced that it is bringing its Jabber UC platform to Apple€™s popular iPad and to Windows-based devices. It€™s part of a larger push by the networking giant to expand collaboration beyond the desktop, according to Michael Smith, director of marketing for Cisco€™s collaboration software applications.

€œWe are in a post-PC world,€ Smith told eWEEK, adding that collaboration in today€™s business world is more dynamic and more ad hoc than in the past, and thus needs to be done on everything from immersive solutions in boardrooms to mobile devices like tablets and smartphones.

And it needs to be more than just communications between people, he said. Users need to be able to show and edit documents, use whiteboard features and communicate through multiple avenues, from video to audio to instant messaging (IM).

Smith pointed to numerous drivers of these demands. Ninety percent of companies are preparing for the current bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, with employees looking to use a growing variety of consumer devices€”like tablets and smartphones€”at work. At the same time, smartphones and tablets are increasing in popularity, as is social software; 65 percent of businesses are deploying or looking to deploy some sort of social software tool, he said.

The growth of video, virtualization and cloud computing also is fueling the new demands on collaboration technology.

At the show, Cisco is announcing that its Jabber UC platform€”which includes everything, from IM, presence and desktop sharing to video, voice and voice mail€”will soon be available on the iPad and on Windows devices. Jabber currently runs on devices with Google€™s Android operating system, as well as Apple€™s iOS and Mac, Research In Motion's BlackBerry and Cisco€™s Cius business tablet.

At the same time, Cisco is growing the integration between Jabber and TelePresence, making it easier for users to connect into TelePresence video sessions in the office or through their mobile devices.

Both the Jabber for iPad and for Windows use such standards as Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), and give users a full collaboration experience, according to Smith. They also can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud. Jabber for iPad and Jabber for Windows are both expected to be available in the second quarter, and will be included as part of Cisco€™s Unified Workspace licensing.

With the BYOD trend, the new Jabber offerings €œreally round out our portfolio of tools we can offer everyone to collaborate where they want and when they want,€ Smith said.

Cisco also is introducing a new offering to its six-year-old TelePresence family. The newly designed three-screen TX9000 offers better ways not only to collaborate in a conference room, but also better enables people with other endpoints to participate.

The enhancements include better integration with Cisco€™s WebEx online meeting technology, including the ability to schedule and start integrated WebEx and TelePresence meetings with a single push of a button, and to add WebEx in an ad hoc fashion to any TelePresence meeting using Cisco€™s TelePresence Touch interface.

There also is a new, sleek design for TelePresence itself, according to Smith. There€™s a more modern look, new cameras enable better eye contact among participants and blend better into the system design, and the TX9000 can accommodate six users. In addition, the TX9200 comes with a second table that can seat up to 18 people.

The system also supports 1080p, 60 frames per second, while data sharing features support 1080p, 30 fps. In addition, the TX9000 offers new collaboration capabilities like being able to put content on the main TelePresence screens, pointing and highlighting data, moving content from one screen to the next, white boarding and offering data from multiple content sources.

Smith said the TX9000 also is easier to set up and costs less to own. According to Cisco, the new TelePresence solution requires 20 percent less bandwidth than earlier systems, does not require specialized lighting or audio, and can be set up and deployed within two days.

The TX9000 will begin shipping in the second quarter, starting at $229,000.