Robkoplowitz By Rob Koplowitz

Today, Cisco announced their intention to acquire Jabber, a major player in enterprise instant messaging. On the heals of Cisco's acquisition of PostPath for email, it's becoming clear that Cisco is really serious about collaboration. Not only are they serious, but they are begining to execute on a very compelling strategy. Some of the more interesting aspects of this move:

  • Jabber continues to fill out Cisco's collaboration portfolio by adding secure instant messaging and persistent chat. Now, they have their established position in unified communications, voice conferencing, telepresence and WebEx web conferencing and email, instant messaging and persistent chat coming on line. If Cisco can drive deep integration across all of these components and do it at a reasonable price point, there will be real value in the bundle.
  • Jabber is well positioned for cloud deployment. Their core differentiator has long been massive scalability with a design goal of serving millions, rather than thousands of users. If you want to take on market leaders Microsoft and IBM, you need to identify and exploit a market disruption. Cloud-based collaboration could be just the disruption Cisco needs. Massive scalability helps a lot.
  • Jabber has been a leader in defining and driving the XMPP protocol. GoogleTalk also runs XMPP natively. XMPP is unique in its ability to securely cross organizational boundaries. The partnering opportunities could be really interesting. The competitive issues might be even more interesting.

It's clear now that Cisco is serious about collaboration. They have identified and communicated their unique differentiators which are compelling. Can they deliver, securely and reliably? Can they sell to enterprise buyers that aren't used to dealing with Cisco? If the answer to these questions is yes, there may be a new kid on the collaboration block. Welcome to the party, Cisco.