SIP pioneer Rosenberg returns to Cisco

Not feeling a fit at Skype after the Microsoft buy, he's now heading up cloud collaboration

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Jonathan Rosenberg has left Skype as chief technology strategist and returned to Cisco to help the company better compete against video and collaboration start-ups and consumer-oriented businesses that threaten its opportunities in those markets. Rosenberg, a pioneer is the development of the SIP protocol, left Cisco in 2009 as a Cisco Fellow in the Voice Technology Group.

Rosenberg returned to Cisco in mid-February as vice president and CTO of cloud collaboration. Nancy Gohring has a conversation with Rosenberg here on sister site CITEWorld.

[THE CISCO/SKYPE CONNECTION: Cisco exec to head Skype]

Rosenberg believes Cisco is in a good position to compete in cloud collaboration, not only against start-ups but traditional consumer companies like Google and Skype, which is now owned by Microsoft. This, despite Cisco's recent challenges in collaboration, which saw the business decline in recent quarters and leadership change three times in a year.

"It's a market transition point and a great opportunity to do new and exciting things in this space."

That consumer plays like Google and Skype are attracting business users for collaboration is a signal that the market for such products and services is growing, Rosenberg says, even though Cisco's is declining. And it means getting Cisco's on-premises conferencing and collaboration equipment folks to sync up with the cloud services folks and play nice together, he says.

"It does take commitment and putting politics aside in order to do what's best," he said.

Rosenberg sees Cisco moving more strategically toward cloud software and services, and views this as an opportunity for the company to take a leadership role in that market. Cisco's challenge, which it acknowledged in several earnings calls and interviews, is integrating its various collaboration piece parts - WebEx, Jabber, TelePresence, etc. - into a cohesive whole.

The question which Rosenberg wouldn't address with Gohring is, why leave Microsoft/Skype with this cloud collaboration software and service opportunity in front of him? What makes Cisco a more appealing alternative?

One thing's for sure, Rosenberg is not alone in leaving Skype after the Microsoft buy. And another thing is certain: Cisco needs him more than he needs Cisco.

"It was one of those things where I mentioned to a few friends that I was interested in poking around and the next thing I know I got phone calls saying 'we really need you.'"

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