Cisco is expanding its lineup of collaboration tools today with a flood of new products and upgrades (61 in all, the company says). In addition to improving on established products like web meeting service WebEx, the networking giant is expanding into two new markets — email and corporate social networking.
Alex Hadden-Boyd, director of Cisco’s Collaboration Software Group, described WebEx Mail as “a bridge” between older email programs and newer web technologies. It integrates smoothly with Microsoft’s Outlook software, as well as email clients on devices like the iPhone and BlackBerry, but there’s also a web version based on Yahoo-owned email service Zimbra. Each account stores up to 25 gigabytes.
“We see this as an evolutionary model,” Hadden-Boyd said, where companies can use the Outlook software they’re comfortable with, then gradually become more comfortable with web products. The service includes technology from email company PostPath, which Cisco acquired a year ago.
On the social networking side, Cisco is rolling out a couple of different products. Cisco Show and Share is a “social video system,” where users can create, edit, and share video content. The Cisco Enterprise Collaboration Platform is a more comprehensive system that includes many common “Enterprise 2.0” tools — blogging/microblogging, wikis, team pages, instant messaging, and more. This sounds similar to a lot of other products, including those from younger companies like PBWorks and Socialtext, but Guido Jouret, chief technology officer of Cisco’s Emerging Technology Group, said the difference is that most of these platforms are based around documents, while Cisco’s aims to enable collaboration around a broader range of media.
Other new products include the Cisco Intercompany Media Engine, which allows users in different companies to collaborate with each other even when they’re behind their respective firewalls; the Intercompany Cisco Telepresence Directory, which lets you see who is available for a telepresence (i.e., video) call; and Cisco WebEx Connect IM, a chat application using technology from Jabber, another company Cisco acquired last year.
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