Cisco's Collaboration Strategy: Coming Through The Network Door

Ted Schadler

Ted-Schadler  by Ted Schadler

Cisco's John Chambers has made "collaboration" a strategy for the company's customers and employees. And enterprise GM Tony Bates is now tasked with driving that strategy. I'm writing from Cisco's launch event in San Francisco. (Well, it's actually still going on.)

There's a lot to digest and analzye, which we'll do over time. But I wanted to share some early thoughts . . .

This week's announcement marks Cisco's formal entry into the broader collaboration market, long fragmented and dominated by IBM and Microsoft for applications and by Tandberg and Polycom for video conferencing.

The company claims 61 products and features, but the key components are email, instant messaging, web conferencing, social software, and video conferencing as well as network-based services like a business TelePresence directory and policy-controlled content tagging. And in the words of Tony Bates, "a video stream runs through all of it."

Cisco's strategy for collaboration fascinates me because it's bold and frankly orthogonal to Microsoft's desktop productivity path and IBM's workgroup history. It's also enterprise-grade by default, unlike Google's consumer-first approach. But I'm fascinated and I believe IT pros should be interested in Cisco's solutions for three reasons:

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The CIO and Social Media: Social Police?

Nigel Fenwick

http://www.mozami.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/iphone.jpgWhat is the CIO's role in driving social media into organizations? Listening to many of our clients it seems that it is often that of "social police" - IT gets asked by legal to block any and all social media applications. While in some cases security concerns drive the decision, in others it's deemed a compliance issue.  There are also those who believe blocking social media improves productivity.
 
The trouble with this approach is that it assumes social media can and should be stopped with technology. The fact is many people are already using web-enabled social applications in the workplace on their own personal smartphones (

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The Implications of a Disappearing IT Industry

Chris Mines

Christopher Mines [Posted by Christopher Mines]

Last month I had the pleasure of keynoting the "International IT Convergence Conference" in Seoul, sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy. It was a fascinating combination of academic conference, government policy discussion, and technology trade show. And also my first opportunity to visit Korea.

The theme of the conference, and topic of the panel discussion I participated in, was "IT convergence." Convergence means many things to different people; in this case, convergence means the collision or combination of information technology and other industries, i.e., embedding IT capabilities in transportation, healthcare, construction, and etc. The case was well-argued by a number of speakers, and the example stories were compelling: phones becoming pocket computers, ships becoming floating computers, buildings becoming hi-rise computers, and the like. And we didn't have to stretch too far to imagine that big parts of the IT industry itself will eventually be subsumed into these other industries, becoming as important and ubiquitous -- and invisible -- as, say, electric motors.

Big opportunities for IT hardware, software, and services. But I felt it important to point out that such embedding or tailoring of IT systems into industrial and consumer systems will come with risks and challenges for IT suppliers, including:

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Novell Pulse Lookin' Cool with Google Wave

Rob Koplowitz

Rob-Koplowitz  by Rob Koplowitz

Novell collaboration has been in the process of an extreme makeover for a while now. It started with the acquisition and subsequest integration  of SiteScape. It continued with new releases of their email offering GroupWise. But, all along they were working on something that would really differentiate their offering in the market. On Wednesday morning they announced Novell Pulse at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco. I've been watching Pulse move from concept to what is now an announced product with an H1 2010 announced ship date for the better part of two years now. It represents an interesting blend of synchronous and asynchronous collaboration and content generation capabilities. If that sounds a bit familiar, think Google Wave. In fact, at the time Wave was announced, I was holding my tongue when folks would ask me if I'd seen anything like it before. I had, the product that became Novell Pulse. I just couldn't say because of a pesky NDA!

Thus it was interesting that Novell became the first vendor in the collaboration space to announce a significant partnership and integration with Google around the upcoming Wave offering. The premise is actually pretty cool. A user in Novell Pulse can work in real-time on a document simultaneously with a user on Google Wave. From the Novell side, all security is managed and maintained by Novell.

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CIOs: Develop A Technology Watch List

A Degree In SharePoint? Microsoft’s Live@edu Offers SharePoint Services To College Kids

TJ Keitt

Yesterday evening, Microsoft announced at the 2009 Annual Educause Conference that they would be rolling out SharePoint-based collaboration and productivity services for universities via Live@edu. While this news arrived quietly at a conference to which collaboration software vendor strategists rarely pay attention, it is potentially game changing in the collaboration platform space. Let me say that again: the fact that Microsoft is getting SharePoint in the hands of the future business leaders of America (and beyond) during their formative years is potentially HUGE. But let’s back up for a second and bring everyone up to speed. For those unfamiliar, Live@edu is Microsoft’s hosted email and collaboration suite targeted at universities. It’s a free service that in the last four months saw over 5,000 schools sign up. One of the underlying goals of Live@edu is to get college students ready for the real world by letting them play with Microsoft tools in college.

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100,000 iPhone Apps. Congrats. Now Add Things Businesses Care About

Ted Schadler

Tedschadler  by Ted Schadler

It had to happen eventually. The success of iPhone (now used by 14% of US, UK, and Canadian smartphone-using information workers) is driven signficantly by "there's an app for that." So that while a huge congratulations! is in order, getting to 100,000 applications available was just a matter of time. Mostly consumer apps, of course, but a growing number of business applications, including Cisco WebEx, Oracle Business Indicators, Roambi's Visualizer data dashboard toolkit, and Salesforce Mobile.

But what IT professionals need, particularly those focused on making information workers productive with smartphones, is much better support for managing custom and prepackaged business applications. (That along with a bunch of things like more robust security, easier device management, stronger encryption, more policy-based control over the device, things that RIM does but the largely Microsoft-controlled ActiveSync solution doesn't. But more on that another time).

Focusing here on applications, it's time for us all to insist that Apple make it easy for IT professionals to:

  • Support wireless application downloads.The current iTunes or iPhone Desktop Configurator solution just doesn't cut it for businesses. They need over-the-air download and update capability.

  • Push application updates. How else can IT feel confident that a business application will work?

  • Configure applications remotely. How else can in-field changes be supported?

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As Expected, Data on Q3 2009 US IT Market Showing Continued Decline, But With Signs of Nearing Bottom

Andrew Bartels

This morning, the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released preliminary data on the US Gross Domestic Product in Q 3 2009, which included data on business investment in computer equipment, software, and other IT equipment (principally communications equipment).  The headline news is the 3.5% increase in real GDP in the US from Q2 2009 to Q3 2009 (at a seasonally adjusted annual rate).  That is the first positive growth in US real GDP since Q2 2008, and the strongest since 2007.  Some special factors, such as the cash-for-clunkers program in autos and the tax incentives for first time home buyers, contributed to this strong growth, so growth in coming quarters will be closer to 2% since these incentives have expired or are likely to do so.  Still, the economic data does suggest that the recession is over. 

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A Third Grade Field Trip To The Apple Store

Ted Schadler

Ted-Schadler by Ted Schadler

When I stopped into an Apple Store in Palo Alto last summer, it was swarming with cute kids in hot pink tee shirts, logoed with the name of a local day camp. Okay, I figured what the heck, 8-year olds learning how Apple's stuff and software works is a cool way to kill a couple of hours.

Then I learned that my eight-year old daughter (self portrait below) was "super excited" to be going on a class field trip to the Apple Store in the local mall. The class of third graders would take the local bus to one side of town and pick up another local bus to the mall (itself an adventure in our car-centric town).

The goal was to learn iMovie, which the kids have access to at school, and to make a movie. Actually, it's a pretty good idea to outsource movie production class to someone else, especially someone passionate about making movies. Regardless of where they are. Smart guy, Mr. C. (her teacher).

But now I'm starting to think that this is a master plan coming from Cupertino, indoctrination through the school system. And it's something that HP and Dell and Microsoft can't replicate right now (though Best Buy could). So I asked my daughter to do some investigative reporting and ask how many school field trips the Apple Store has every month.

Yesterday morning, I came down at 6:30 as usual to let the dog out and empty the dishwasher. Unusually, the kitchen wasn't dark. My eight-year old was already up and ready to rock. "I couldn't go back to sleep, Dad. I was too excited," she bubbled. Ah, the Apple Store awaits.

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Telepresence Jumpstarts Video Collaboration

Claire Schooley

Claire-Schooley By Claire Schooley

Telepresence is the life-size, true color, no latency video meeting technology that creates a “wow” reaction from participants, especially those who have experienced some traditional videoconferencing that gave poor picture quality, out-of synch audio/video, and added no sense of presence to a meeting.  Here are some factors that make telepresence different:

  • Video provides high quality 1080p pictures with hidden cameras placed to achieve eye contact no matter where people are seated around the conference table.
  • Audio is full duplex with microphones and speakers that allow sound to come from the direction of the speaker.
  • The environment is purpose-built with lighting arrays, speakers, and cameras all configured for the optimum experience.  Conference tables, chairs, and even the wall paint are the same at all sites to convey a uniform sense of presence.
  • Managed service and support assure that this expensive system is going to work. Many organizations buy a concierge-type service model so participants just need to push a button to start the videoconference.
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