Cisco Moves Jabber, WebEx Past the PC

Cisco Systems Inc. on Wednesday debuted upgrades to its unified communications (UC) and collaboration platforms, enhancements that give partners a new pitch for customers. In essence, Cisco is expanding past the PC by incorporating mobility into Jabber and WebEx.

On the Jabber UC platform front, there’s now a Web plug-in so users can take advantage of presence, IM, click-to-call and click-to-video from Apple, Android, BlackBerry, Windows and Nokia devices. Cisco also launched a Jabber software developer kit and a softphone that work with the Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari browsers. The plug-in is available now for download.

When it comes to WebEx, there are some significant improvements. First, video users now can take part in two-way collaboration  meaning that presenters now can see participants. This capability is available on the Cisco Cius and Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Next, Cisco is making its cloud conferencing service available to small organizations; there’s a new, free basic edition of WebEx designed for three or fewer people. That will be available early next year and comes with VoIP audio, standard video, IM, presence, desktop sharing and 250MB of storage. Third, Cisco has added “one-button-to-push” technology to its platform so WebEx users can connect to Cisco TelePresence meetings from their Apple and Android mobile devices.

All of this will enable channel partners to “deliver profitable and integrated collaboration solutions…backed by professional integration services,” Cisco said in a press release.  Greg Smith, vice president of sales, enterprise solutions for value-added reseller DataVox, agreed. Cisco has lagged behind the competition  namely, Microsoft Corp.  in terms of offering a collaborative desktop client that brings together functionality for people in the office and out in the field. But the Jabber and WebEx announcements give VARs, dealers and other partners a new customer pitch, Smith said.

“Microsoft has had a streamlined message for a couple of years now while we have bounced back and forth between the Cisco personal communicator and the WebEx connect client,” he said. “Each had their advantages and it seemed that no one could agree on what the preferred solution really was. Now that we will have a single client, I think it will help Cisco in their attempt to win the desktop. I think it creates a huge opportunity for Cisco and their partners.”

He added that as end-users understand the importance of collaboration to their businesses, they are starting to see how it can improve other areas within their organizations.

“As they understand the value, opportunities emerge for Datavox as a channel partner to explore more and larger use cases for these collaboration applications,” Smith said.

Cisco this week is hosting its Collaboration Summit in Miami.

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