Cisco’s fires warning shots at Google, Microsoft, …

Over the years, we have watched Cisco launch new products with a marketing panache that few companies could match.  However, this week Cisco quietly launched 61 products centered on their ever expanding portfolio of collaboration technologies.  The importance of these announcements cannot be overstated, as we are watching Cisco’s long term strategy unfold before our very eyes.

What do WebEX, PostPath, Scientific Atlanta, Pure Digital Technologies, Unified Communications, and perhaps Tandberg have in common?  They spell out a strategy of collaboration and social networking centered on video and its delivery.  Whether the video, photo, or recordings take place on a hand-held device, a TelePresence conference, or a web camera, or a HD TV, Cisco is providing not only the transport but also the platform (aka software) or portal destination (WebEx).

While WebEx Mail is interesting as it demonstrates Cisco’s commitment to cloud based applications, I am far more interested in Cisco’s other new products namely; Cisco Show and Share, Cisco Enterprise Collaboration Platform, and Cisco Pulse.  Why?  While some have prematurely crowned Google Wave as the collaboration platform of the future, many Enterprises would rather maintain security, control, and freedom from using their employees as a giant pool for advertisement revenue. 

As Google continues to fight for legitimacy in the Enterprise, Cisco is clearly already a dominant force.  Furthermore, WebEx may be the perfect launching and test bed for these new ways of collaborating as it is trusted, reliable, and well refined.  Perhaps Cisco should consider expanding the WebEx brand allowing for a WebEx-I built within an internal cloud?  Perhaps creating a pre-packaged WebEx, Show and Share, and Enterprise Collaboration Platform conveniently hosted with VMs residing in a UCS-B platform, attached to a Nexus via a Unified Fabric, and on and on…

Of particular interest to me is Cisco Pulse as it combines the power of the network with the advantages of search.  Imagine being able to dynamically tag content as it passes through the network allowing users to actually find the information they are looking for at a later time.  If Cisco can add structure and classification to the tagged data, then they certainly have a winner.

Any discussion of the Enterprise is not complete without mentioning Microsoft.  While they have taken steps to shore up their Enterprise products, are they too focused on taking down Google?  Microsoft has the ability to not only innovate but to rapidly deploy those innovations within the largest Enterprises in the world.  In-the-end, Microsoft needs a way to shed the “Evil Empire” crown while articulating a vision that is exciting, bold, and fresh. 

Whether it is by acquisition or internal development, Cisco has never been afraid to disrupt or innovate across multiple markets.  How far will they go to own the next decade?  Will they pursue mobile devices?  Will they truly escape “the innovators dilemma?”

Traditional or Next Generation Software/Application Vendors beware; here comes Cisco.

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