Cisco Moves a Step Ahead with Jabber Acqn. in UC

by Sonal Desai    Sep 24, 2008

With Jabber’s acquisition, Cisco wants to a create and exploit the open source tag against MS in long run and quickly position its UC story as Open and scalable so that companies with various platforms such as Microsoft Office Communication server, IBM Sametime, AOL or even some of their partners using Google messenger can send message and get presence of each other whenever required.

Also, since Jabber is an open standard, by not charging for the IM, it can take an affordable costing position against Microsoft, said T.R. Madan Mohan, managing partner, Browne and Mohan. Jabber is an open-source product company and Cisco has positioned Jabber as an open standard enabling open IM and protocols.

On the other hand, the acquisition will essentially plug in absence of Cisco s interconnectivity with other IMs such as Web IMs like Google and Yahoo. Jabber has a platform of IMs that it provides to customers that acts as a connector compatability solution.

Cisco has been on a shopping spree to unify its UC portfolio and so the Jabber acquisition did fit into its strategy, said Nareshchandra Singh, principal research analyst for Garnter.

Cisco and Microsoft have been head on since a long time for the UC market. Gartner views them both as leaders in terms of reputation and technology. I think Microsoft has its strength in collaboration software and email with the OCS line of products for communicator. It also has large installed bases. Cisco was supposed to catch up them, and this is initial state of what it required, said Singh.

So will the acquisition hut hurt Microsoft? In the short run, the impact is negligible, because the very usage of UC is low and more and more companies may themselves want to restrict access to messaging and presence for security and other reasons, said Mohan.

Microsoft is a few stages ahead of Cisco. Microsoft has both pieces on the client side and the software end. It is also working on the client end. Cisco on the other hand is primarily strong on end point. It needs to work on how it will pair smart streaming and cashing of content (at the client), said Singh.

However, Cisco’s open standard platform may over come Microsoft sooner than later, said sources. This will help Cisco convert its biggest customer into a project developer, and these new developers can pose a challenge (to Microsoft) because such communities are made up of individuals.

The challenge for Cisco now lies in how it will integrate its past acquisitions with Jabber. It may be recalled that Cisco acquired PostPath, a provider of hosted e-mail and calendaring solutions based in Mountain View last month. The company said the acquisition puts Cisco in a head-to-head competition with Microsoft in the unified communications and collaboration (UCC) market.

Cisco already had advanced into the Web-conferencing cloud when it acquired Webex last year. Future unified communications solutions from Cisco can include a combination of features, including Web conferencing, e-mail, instant messaging, voice, video, data and more.

Cisco is a hardware company. Although it has set up a software unit, it is too early for the company to understand software as technology, said Singh. At present, it has a lot of pieces. Since the Jabber acquisition will take a couple of more months to finish, the start of the integration process will delay that long.

He said Cisco can also focus on the Saas model. A licensed model, the technology will gain momentum in the next one or two years. Cisco already has a good start with Webex platform. With the addition of Jabber, it has to now think about the basic approach towards Saas for its UC offerings.

The breakthrough into large enterprise that typically has a history of strong legacy can follow once it integrates all its platforms with Jabber.

Meanwhile, the two giants also are working hand-in-hand to better serve mutual customers on the client-server networking front. Last year, Cisco and Microsoft announced an agreement to strengthen their technological collaboration to enhance interoperability between network and software products.