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Posted by Henry Dewing on December 30, 2011
Cloud is the latest buzz in the IT market, and we at Forrester have covered this quite extensively. As I reflect on 2011, this is a theme that has also played prominently in many collaboration vendor discussions — because it is a fundamentally better business model to deliver collaboration technology to users. Faster version cycle times, simplified management of deployed software, reduced TCO of a shared pool of cloud resources, and serving information workers directly are just some of the varied benefits for users, buyers, and vendors. The direct connection to end users is a key to accelerating adoption in the collaboration and growing social markets.
At their Collaboration Summit, Cisco affirmed their commitment to delivering cloud services. They described Cisco WebEx (web conferencing and meeting) and Cisco CallWay (video conferencing) as part of the Cisco Collaboration Cloud — and having used both of these, I can say with certainty that they are usable, simple, and appealing.
I believe that Cisco’s secret to success will be their robust channels approach. Richard McLeod, senior director handling worldwide channels for collaboration sales, runs programs for traditional channel partners helping to install and run collaboration solutions on premise. Others at Cisco, such as Amanda Jobbins, VP global partner marketing, spend a lot of their time thinking about service providers as channels and how Cisco can help them succeed. These leaders look for products Cisco has designed to deliver collaboration capable clouds — and is working to advance the adoption of them — for example:
My point is not to describe Cisco’s collab strategy but to point out the layered approach to enabling collaboration clouds. Every vendor has a slightly different approach, and some examples include:
To succeed, vendors will need to diligently pursue the integration of cloud collaboration capabilities into cloud service provider networks and business processes. Vendors must help service provider channels do the following to accelerate adoption by buyers and users:
The market is interested in cloud services — Forrester sees the retail cloud market growing at a 35% CAGR for the next five years. Buyers tell us they expect the cloud to deliver faster, more reliable deployments — and vendors stand to reap a rich reward as they eliminate barriers to adoption and help service providers deliver.
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