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For an analyst's view of Cisco's announcements, see these four postings by Mike Gotta (he's currently at Cisco's Collaboration Summit):
- Understanding Cisco's Collaboration Strategy (Part 1): What Is Driving Cisco into the Collaboration Market?
- Understanding Cisco's Collaboration Strategy (Part 2): What Is Cisco Announcing?
- Understanding Cisco's Collaboration Strategy (Part 3): Clarifications and Questions
- Understanding Cisco's Collaboration Strategy (Part 4): Is Cisco's Vision Holistic Enough?
Mike notes, "In those areas [virtual computing, voice and video networks, and inter-business collaboration] Cisco will progress and mature over the next 3 years (expect incremental consistency)--people should not expect overnight success--this remains a journey for Cisco."
I agree--Cisco still has a lot to learn in these markets, and it will not be an overnight success. However, these announcements have already changed the dynamics of the market. Looking at just hosted e-mail:
- Microsoft just lost its "California trendy vs. business-like" positioning: When going up against Google Apps, Microsoft has been able to say, "Yes, Google's trendy, but wouldn't you rather deal with a company that's been selling to enterprises for years?" In some cases, large enterprises, put off by Gmail's downtime and Google's enterprise cluelessness, have said yes, purchasing BPOS or Exchange Online. Cisco now disrupts that binary choice. Cisco can call high; it's been selling to enterprises for years. So while Cisco is new to hosted e-mail, it's only about a year behind Microsoft, and it's also a "safe" choice. For enterprises that just want to outsource e-mail--they don't care how it integrates with a collaboration platform--Cisco has now became an option.
- IBM now has another enterprise SaaS e-mail vendor to go against: IBM's Lotus Live offering is for SMBs; if a large enterprise wants someone else to run its Lotus Notes e-mail system, IBM Global Services offers hosting services. If a large customer came to IBM looking for e-mail hosting, they were also probably looking at Google Apps and Exchange Online Dedicated. Now Cisco gets added to the mix.