Cisco buys Jabber

* Cisco is clearly a force with which leading messaging providers will have to contend

Cisco's latest acquisition is Jabber, a leading developer of enterprise-grade presence-enablement capabilities. Jabber's offerings include its Extensible Communications Platform, JabberNow (an enterprise instant messaging appliance), and instant messaging clients (a thick client for Windows, a browser-based client and mobile clients). Jabber has, for years, been a leading proponent of the XMPP protocol for presence-enabled applications.

Jabber is the latest in a series of strategic acquisitions by Cisco, including PostPath (an alternative to Microsoft Exchange that permits the use of Microsoft Outlook without a plug-in), IronPort (messaging and Web security) and WebEx (online collaboration), among many other acquisitions over the past several years.

Given Cisco’s strength in unified communications and its growing strength in e-mail servers, security and collaboration, the company is clearly a force with which leading messaging providers will have to contend. The combination of WebEx and Jabber technologies as a presence-enabled collaboration platform, coupled with PostPath for e-mail services, could make Cisco a much more important competitor in the messaging and collaboration space.

Clearly, Cisco is focusing primarily on an in-the-cloud strategy given that it is acquiring vendors of carrier-grade and highly scalable solutions. Plus, going head-to-head with Microsoft and IBM on the desktop will be much more difficult and unlikely to be as fruitful as focusing on the relatively nascent software-as-a-service model.

I believe that Cisco’s strategy will be to focus primarily on a collaboration-centric experience that almost treats e-mail as a secondary experience. This is not to say that e-mail won’t be important in a Cisco-enabled environment – it will be. But the future customer of a hosted Cisco offering will be focused more on a collaboration-centric experience not unlike the one I wrote about a few weeks ago in which I surmised that e-mail would migrate toward a Facebook-like interface that includes meeting and collaboration tools, presence information and e-mail.

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