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On Friday, November 6, The Wall Street Journal posted a story noting that Cisco would soon be announcing a new e-mail solution as well as video sharing and social networking products. Although Cisco doesn't make the official announcement about its SaaS e-mail solution until two hours from now (12 ET today), the Friday trickle has already turned into a Monday flood:
- Marguerite Reardon, "Cisco ruffles feathers with new collaboration tools," CNET News, November 8, 2009.
- Clint Boulton, "Cisco Adds Social Software, Hosted E-mail to Collaboration Lineup," November 9, 2009.
- "Cisco Breaks Down Barriers to Business to Business Collaboration," CNNMoney.com, November 9, 2009.
The question was never "if" Cisco would offer SaaS-based e-mail, but rather "when." Cisco bought PostPath in August 2008, and was clearly working to bring a "Cisco-ized" version to market. In fact, if you attended the SaaS e-mail vendor panel I ran at this year's Burton Group Catalyst Conference, you will remember the Cisco representative saying a SaaS-based e-mail solution was in beta test--and told the audience if anyone was interested in being in the beta to contact him afterwards.
Information missing from the pre-announcement news stories is pricing for the service. It had better be in the ballpark of $50 per user per year. This is the number that Google has burned into people's brains, and one that Microsoft met last week with it's 50% price cut of Exchange Online. (In this case, the WSJ article is wrong. It stated, "Microsoft recently dropped the price of its hosted email service from $15 per person per month to $10." That's the price for BPOS. Exchange Online was $120 per year; it's now $60 per year, and with volume discounts it gets below $50 [e.g., 10,000 users is $49.32 per user].)