Cisco Unveils Collaboration Products

The company launched telepresence, unified communications, and WebEx products and enterprise social software and hosted e-mail solutions.

William Gardner

November 9, 2009

3 Min Read
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Cisco launched a series of collaboration products Monday, encompassing telepresence, unified communications, and Cisco WebEx solutions.

At the same time, the company extended its acceptance period to Nov. 18 for its planned $3 billion acquisition of Tandberg, which would likely contribute key building blocks to Cisco's videoconferencing and telepresence applications.

Cisco's collaboration products and services take the company far from its traditional routers and switches business and towards CEO John Chambers' vision of embracing video and other voice applications to enable person-to-person and business-to-business collaboration across a wide range of media technologies and devices.

"Cisco's new collaboration experience enables innovative ways of working," said Tony Bates, senior VP and general manager of enterprise, commercial, and small business at Cisco, in a statement. "They can be deployed in any order and at a pace that matches a company's business imperatives."

Cisco also moved into two new markets Monday -- enterprise social software and hosted e-mail solutions -- as it exploited some of its recent acquisitions. The Cisco Show and Share social video system helps organizations record, edit, and share videos and associated add-ons like RSS feeds and tagging. Speech-to-text transcripts can be uploaded in the application.

Cisco WebEx Mail, utilizing technology from recent acquisition PostPath, features interoperability with Microsoft Outlook and AJAX Web 2.0 access. The on-demand WebEx Mail is highly scalable and overcomes traditional mailbox size limitations.

Cisco's unified communications offerings cut across many of the products unveiled Monday. Its Cisco Unified Communications system 8.0 includes new video- and Wi-Fi-enabled Cisco Unified IP Phones as well as additional smartphones through Cisco Unified Mobile Communicator.

Also, Cisco Pulse, a search engine that traverses networks, carries out dynamic tagging of content. The real-time cross application view of an organization's networks enables users to locate and rapidly connect with the people and information they need.

Cisco did not mention Tandberg in its announcement, although it likely has big plans for the company's videoconferencing products if the acquisition goes through. Cisco did note however that it was extending its telepresence and online video applications with Cisco TelePresence WebEx Engage. Cisco also introduced its TelePresence Directory of endpoints including more than 80 customers already using intercompany Cisco TelePresence.

The Tandberg acquisition has been held up because a minority group of Tandberg stockholders is seeking to get Cisco to increase its acquisition price at least 11%. Tandberg's directors and top management have approved Cisco's offer, which is 38% higher than the price of Tandberg stock when reports first surfaced of a potential acquisition. Norwegian laws require that 90% of a firm's stockholders vote in favor of any Norwegian company's acquisition, giving leverage to the 24% of stockholders holding out for a higher price.

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