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Cisco Updates Unified Communications Platform

Trying to jump-start the adoption of unified communications technologies, Cisco Systems will introduce today Unified Communications system 6.0 at VoiceCon Spring 2007 in Orlando, Fla. The newest release of Cisco's telephony server bundles presence, Instant Messaging (IM) and options for extending unified communications to mobile platforms.

Previously, Cisco provided its presence platform on a separate, optional server with what was then called Unified CallManager. The rebranding to Unified Communications Manager is more than semantics. Telephony vendors, including Cisco, are trying to increase their revenue-per-seat by selling customers advanced communication technologies, such as video, IM, presence, unified messaging and collaboration tools.

To date, success has been nominal at best. Few organizations have purchased such advanced collaboration technologies--witness the relative lack of success of Siemens' OpenScape and Nortel Networks' MCS 5100, both of which include such advanced features.

A Wainhouse Research survey of 300 readers last June showed that while some enterprises have adopted softphones (24 percent) and unified messaging (20 percent), only 13 percent have adopted presence and IM. Similar numbers have been reported by Nemeretes Research and others.

The challenge for telephony vendors is that presence is a core technology used not only by instant messaging platforms but increasingly by enterprise applications. Being the provider of that presence server then drives adoption of enterprise IM, video and other collaboration technologies at the desktop. In theory, multiple presence servers could be deployed, but the reality is that exchanging presence information between presence servers has a long way to go.

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