Last week both Cisco and Microsoft made wide-ranging announcements around their unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) portfolios. On Friday, Cisco added to its barrage of collaboration announcements (Cisco Proclaims Their Collaboration Intentions) with the introduction of:

  • Cisco Quad (a user application to enable unified access to content in enterprise repositories).
  • Cisco WebEx Connect 6.5 (adding more collaboration-as-a-service by introducing browser based access).
  • Cisco Prosumer Video (Launching a new Flip video camera for the enterprise and the software to enable IT and information workers to manage video).

This announcement was on the heels of Microsoft’s TechEd, where cloud-based development platforms and services were a hot topic of conversation; Microsoft used the stage to continue to illuminate its intentions to make Microsoft Office Wave 14 products available in the second half of 2010. In talking with Moz Hussain, Director OCS Technical Product Management at Microsoft, just before TechEd, he stressed two things about Microsoft’s UC solution:

  • The full capabilities of UC&C are available based on deployment of Microsoft OCS, SharePoint, and Live Meeting.
  • Microsoft solutions are fully interoperable with other leading UC&C vendors.

Moz hinted broadly at the purpose and usefulness of the recently founded Unified Communications Interoperability Forum to deliver independent interoperability testing and/or certification, but the full scope and role of that organization is still being finalized.

I also received some news from IBM — Bruce Morse VP, Unified Communications Software, will be retiring at the end of the month, pursuing his personal plan to seek new adventures after 32 successful years at IBM. Bruce has been a calm voice of experience and reason in the UC&C market since helping to establish UC2 as IBM’s name for the UC&C market long before other vendors thought to include “collaboration” as an integral part of the marketing message of UC. Bruce says his team is committed to execute the IBM strategy of open, best-of-class UC2, and all his key team members remain in place — continuing to deliver the innovations that are central to their strategy (IBM Establishes Collaboration Agenda at Lotusphere).

 By the end of the week, the market was on notice that UC&C-as-a-service will be a force to be reckoned with, vendors see that open interoperability is the holy grail that buyers are waiting for, and video is becoming increasingly important.