With Cisco's shuttering of Cisco Mail, multitenant cloud email is now (as my colleague Chris Voce called it) a battle royale between Microsoft, Google, and IBM, where the winner will have products, scale, sales channels, and big ecosystems of support.
I am not surprised that Cisco bailed on cloud email. All the signs were there:
The company overpaid for PostPath in the midst of a buying spree. PostPath (which made some folks a lot of money when it sold for $215M) was just one of 17 acquisitions Cisco made in 2007 and 2008. Clearly Cisco was feeling confident that it could buy its way into new markets. (And it did with WebEx.)
Cisco Mail was always to be released "any day now." It's fine to preannounce a product so that buyers know it's coming. But Cisco Mail never quite got shipped. The one reference customer never returned my phone calls.
Cisco's collaboration platform doesn't require email. Messaging is one of the four big boxes of collaboration stuff. (The others are conferencing, workspaces, and social technology.) Messaging in particular can be carved out and offered separately. Cisco doesn't need email. It has WebEx and video conferencing. (The jury's still out on presence, chat, video hosting, and social technology.)