Thursday, October 11

Cisco, Microsoft Resume Unified Communications Battle

By The VAR Guy No comments

Ali vs. Frazier. Yankees vs. Red Sox (well, not this year…). Cisco vs. Microsoft. There’s nothing like a showdown between two titans who love to brawl. By now, you know Cisco and Microsoft have high hopes for the unified communications market. In fact, Microsoft will finally launch its unified products next week. But Cisco won’t be standing still.

First, let’s review some of the quick facts. Microsoft is expected to launch Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator at an event in San Francisco on October 16. And while Microsoft is most cozy with Nortel Networks in the unified market, you can bet that the software giant and Cisco will find some sort of way to at least acknowledge that they are working to ensure interoperability across their products.

Wonderful. Everybody take a bow. Interoperability is a worthy cause. But Cisco certainly won’t stand still while Microsoft promotes Office Communications Server. Watch for the networking giant to make several strategic moves in the weeks ahead, including:

1. WebEx Partnerships: Cisco intends to leverage numerous partnerships that its WebEx business has in place. Also, watch for Cisco to strengthen its unified relationships with BEA Systems, Business Objects and SugarCRM, among other possibilities.

2. Metrios: Cisco snapped up this software company in June 2006. Watch for the networking giant to more aggressively promote Metrios technology as a means to write and deliver unified communications applications.

3. Mobile: Keep a close eye on Interop New York (October 22-26, New York). There’s a high probability that Cisco will announce advancements involving unified mobile applications. Imagine smart phones accessing a range of unified applications. It’s going to happen, folks. And you can expect to hear more at Interop.

Despite the fierce competition between Microsoft and Cisco, The VAR Guy has been impressed with both companies’ statements lately. Neither company is taking cheap shots at rivals in the market. This looks to be a clean — though aggressive — fight between two titans.

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