2012 has been a mixed year for Cisco so far. On one had, it’s had to deal with key personnel departures and severing ties with old partners such as ZTE for political and business reasons. On the other, the company has strengthened its position in the cloud segment with acquisitions such as newScale and high-profile additions such as Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff to the company board.
Over the last year or so, the Unified Communication (UC) segment has gone up by several notches. Last month, Polycom unveiled ‘CloudAXIS’ - Video Collaboration as a Service (VCaaS) that will allow both large enterprises and service providers customized video conferencing services on private or public clouds. With video conferencing segment expected to be worth $12 billion by 2015, it’s no surprise that all players have been busy chalking out elaborate plans to get a lion’s share of this lucrative pie.
On its part, Cisco has repeatedly released minor updates to its cloud-based collaboration solutions over the last few months. The networking giant yesterday announced that t is increasing the number of collaboration software products that its hosting partners can offer via the cloud, hoping to make the bundles more attractive to the partners and their customers.
The company’s biggest announcements made at the Cisco Collaboration Summit in Los Angeles include (1) bringing into its Hosted Collaboration Service (HCS) both TelePresence bridging and many of the capabilities of Cisco Unified Communications Release 9.0; and (2) extending Cisco WebEx to the Private Cloud.
Other HCS enhancements include on-demand TelePresence meetings, fixed-mobile convergence and integration with Cisco Jabber & the option to bring third-party phones into the Cisco UC environment. Cisco’s HCS has done well in the last one year as the number of service providers and partners offering its Hosted Collaboration Solution more than doubled in the past year from 16 to 34.
OJ Winge, senior vice president, Collaboration Technology Group, Cisco “At Cisco, we’re seeing exceptional growth and adoption across our collaboration cloud offerings. Case in point: More than half of the world’s leading service providers have adopted Cisco’s HCS solution. We feel it’s about choice. And, it’s ultimately about providing exceptional end user experiences, regardless of the deployment model.”
As for bringing WebEx to the Private Cloud, it’s been on the cards for a while. The objective is to facilitate businesses to enable web conferencing and other UC solutions for its employees across multiple devices and operating systems.
Analysts believe both these new offerings are aimed at resolving the front-end issues of collaboration as BYOD gains acceptance in the business world. The networking giant’s own research has concluded that a majority of organizations allow employee-owned devices in some form in the workplace. As many as 76 percent organizations agree that BYOD was somewhat or extremely positive for their companies and challenging for their IT departments. The recent announcements to HCS and the extension of WebEx to private cloud will help Cisco adopt a BYOD-friendly approach for its UC solutions.
Both new offerings are expected to roll out worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2012.