Not content with wading into the server hardware business earlier this year, networking equipment maker Cisco has announced a collection of new releases that will compete with office communication tools such as Microsoft Office and IBM’s Lotus Notes.
One example is WebEx Email, a hosted email service based on technology that Cisco picked up when it acquired email software provider PostPath in August 2008. The service, the company says, has “optimised mobile device support and browser-independent AJAX web 2.0 access” and most importantly integrates with the Microsoft Outlook front-end.
This means that businesses can use Cisco’s service instead of managing their own Exchange email server, without having to change desktop email client.
The company also announced “enterprise-ready social software solutions” including Show and Share, a ‘social video system’ that allows users to share video content with colleagues and customers, using such ‘Web 2.0’ functionality as RSS feeds and tagging.
Another is the Cisco Enterprise Collaboration Platform, a ‘people-centric’ portal product that will allow business to build social network-like intranets, the company said.
It also announced infrastructure products to support its collaborative and social software platforms, including ‘real-time video transcoding’ and a new search platform called ‘Cisco Pulse’ that creates a “real-time, cross application view of the entire organisation”.
The announcements represent the continuation of Cisco’s ambitions to exploit its dominance in networking infrastructure to push into new markets. Earlier this year, it announced the forthcoming Universal Computing System, a server platform based around the capability of Cisco’s switches to interconnect virtual machines.
Thanks in part to its blossoming partnership with information infrastructure provider and VMware majority owner EMC, Cisco is seen as a company with growing influence in the IT industry.
However, it has suffered a disastrous year in financial terms, even by the low standards of the past 12 months. Last week the company reported first quarter revenues of $9 billion, a 13% decrease from the same period of the previous year. This result was perceived as a positive sign for the company. "The quarter was very strong," said CEO John Chambers.