Cisco Releases Cisco Jabber – A "Unified Communications" Product

Cisco released Cisco Jabber, offering a plethora of communication tools:

Cisco Jabber, a unified communications application that brings together presence, instant messaging (IM), voice and video, voice messaging, desktop sharing and conferencing into a single consistent experience across PCs, Macs, tablets and smart phones. Jabber provides a simple way for business workers to easily and securely find the right people, to see if and on what device they are available, and to collaborate using their preferred method or device.

The technology was acquired in September 2008, when Cisco acquired Jabber, although it hasn’t done much with it since then. Almost 2.5 years is a long time to turn an acquisition into a Cisco-branded product.

My Comments
Having something that works across multiple devices is good for enterprises and its extended customers, partners, and suppliers. Jabber is equivalent with the XMPP protocol – both Jabber.org and Jabber.com while they were separate entities made a big deal about XMPP as a better alternative to the other standard – SIP/SIMPLE.

The current leaders in the presence and instant messaging space are IBM with Lotus Sametime, and Microsoft with various editions of Office Communications Server or the latest Lync Server. Cisco will be hoping they can steal share from them.

It’s unclear what platforms Jabber is actually available for now. The press release says the Mac client will come in the June-August timeframe, and confusingly that “Jabber is available today or in development for Windows, iPhone, iPad, Nokia, Android and BlackBerry platforms.” It’s the phrase “or in development” that has me worried.

With the recent execution of Cisco Mail, based on the PostPath acquisition, Jabber is one of the two strategic plays that Cisco needs to get right. The other is Cisco Quad; perhaps more news on that front will be forthcoming shortly.

Jabber can interoperate with Cisco’s high end telepresence equipment, or at least, will be able to in the second half of 2011.

Overall, it’s a good announcement … but … given the lack of clarity about what’s actually available right now, plus the extended delivery time frame on some items, plus the 2.5 years since the acquisition, plus the strong embedded competition from IBM and Microsoft … it may be too little too late. Cisco needs to step up faster on the collaboration front, or they risk technology irrelevance.

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