Cisco Integrates Collaboration Tools into Networking Routers

The vendor's BE6000S platform puts features such as video, audio and messaging into a 2921 ISR, making it easier for midsize companies to deploy and use.

video conferencing

Cisco Systems, a day after unveiling a mobile app for collaboration and a new TelePresence room system, is now turning its attention back to giving midmarket companies the tools to improve their communications capabilities.

On the second day of the company's Collaboration Summit 2014 in Los Angeles, Cisco officials introduced the Business Edition 6000S, a complete collaboration solution that is housed in a 2921 Integrated Services Router (ISR).

The BE6000S platform offers midsize businesses the ability to leverage voice, video, instant messaging, presence and paging for 25 to 150 users in the same box that also offers routing, network security and wireless capabilities, according to Cisco officials. The new platform adds to the family of BE6000 solutions that Cisco offers the midmarket.

Packaged solutions like the BE6000S give midsize businesses—defined by Cisco as companies with up to 1,000 employees—the collaboration capabilities they need in a package that is easy to deploy and manage, according to Chris Wiborg, director of collaboration portfolio marketing at Cisco. Such organizations, which may have small IT staffs, need the same communications functions as their larger brethren.

"They don't want an enterprise solution that's been dumbed down," Wiborg told eWEEK. "They want all the features at an affordable price. … The goal here is to make it simple."

The BE6000S, which will be available in early 2015, is the latest addition to a growing portfolio of collaboration solutions aimed at the increasingly important midmarket, including the BE6000. The flagship BE6000 was launched in 2011, and has since gained more than 2 million users worldwide, according to Cisco officials. Along with the solution integrated into the ISR, the company also announced that it is increasing the video capacity of the higher-end BE6000 platforms by 25 percent, enabling them to support more simultaneous video calls.

Cisco also has made it easier for customers to migrate to the higher capacity BE6000 solutions, enabling organizations to protect the investments they've already made in the technology, officials said.

The vendor has been building out its portfolio of collaboration solutions for the midmarket, which officials said account for almost $500 million of revenue annually. The company in March introduced the TelePresence SX10 Quick Set, which is designed to enable midsize companies to video-enable any room by taking advantage of any flat-panel screen and turning it into an HD collaboration solution within 10 minutes.

The TelePresence SX10 was part of a larger product rollout by Cisco designed to make enterprise-level video conferencing available to smaller companies.

"Anyone can build a system that's low cost, but not everyone can build something that's low cost and gives a great user experience," Rowan Trollope, senior vice president of Cisco's Technology Group, said at the time.

Over the last several months, Cisco also has unveiled the DX Series of desktop systems that run Google's Android mobile operating system and are designed to bring together such collaboration tools as voice-only phones, Webcams and monitors into a single product, and the fully integrated TelePresence MX200and MX300 G2 systems that are affordable and easy to use.

The company also offers an array of IP phones for midsize companies and cloud collaboration tools.