Cisco has been relatively quiet at VoiceCon Orlando 2008. Well, they did make a bit of a splash today with a keynote address that featured CEO John Chambers and former vice president Al Gore discussing how communications technology can do its part to fight global climate change. I’ll have more on that later over at SearchUnifiedCommunications.com.
However, unlike many of the vendors here, both big and small, Cisco made no major announcements. Every other vendor here killed a small forest of trees to print out press releases about new products, new partnerships and new customer wins. Cisco was content to demonstrate some of its existing flagship technologies, such as telepresence.
While in Orlando this week, I did meet with Alan Cohen, Cisco’s vice president of enterprise solutions. He hinted at some news Cisco would be offering up later this year.
First of all, something is clearly brewing with WebEx, the online meeting technology that Cisco acquired last year.
“I’d say stay tuned to the WebEx space,” Cohen said. “When you look at our unified communications portfolio, our UC product stack, it’s about messaging, IP telephony, contact center, Cisco mobility. But its also about new video and visual products like telepresence and WebEx. You’ll see tighter integration between premise UC products and WebEx products.”
It sounds like Cisco is poised to integrate WebEx into its UC platform as some sort of collaboration space.
Cohen said something is also brewing with Securent, which Cisco bought last November. Securent is a policy engine, which has now been renamed Cisco Policy Manager. Cohen said Cisco will be making an announcement with Securent later this spring and he hinted that this announcement would help companies collaborate with each other.
“The question isn’t, can you and I send email or share files,” Cohen said. “The question is, can I enter your UC environment to collaborate with you and basically be a part of your business in a digital way? You need a policy that says you’re allowed from this hour to this hour to come into this part of my office digitally and see my information stream. Expect to see a lot more on this from us.”
It also sounds like Cisco is getting ready to make some noise in the social networking space by leveraging recent acquisitions such as Tribe.net and Five Across.
“What we see is when you take business unified communications and add social networking, you get collaboration,” Cohen said. “What we’re working on is making social networking safe and reliable for business. You’ll see a lot of that in our product direction. I think you’re going to see a larger vision of that.”
So Cisco has been somewhat quiet this week, but it sounds to me that they’ll be announcing some very interesting products later this year in the communications and collaboration area. Stay tuned.