Changing the Channel: Networking VAR news

Nov 10 2009   8:26PM GMT

Cisco adds hosted email to its collaboration offerings

ElaineHom Elaine Hom Profile: ElaineHom

At the Cisco Partner Summit back in June, the word of the week was “collaboration.”  Cisco seems to be delivering on that promise to partners, as the networking giant announces this week its new collaboration push — hosted email.

Granted, Cisco hasn’t released too many details about how partners can profit, or even a partner program for this new offering. But it has announced the availability of new hosted email WebEx Mail in the U.S. and Canada.

Hosted email is a well-treaded territory. With companies like Microsoft slashing hosted email prices, and companies like Google with free or near-free offerings, how does Cisco expect to compete? It’s hard enough to get people to switch email services as it is. If Cisco has difficulty selling hosted email, how are VARs expected to sell it to their customers?

All of this points to Cisco’s determined push into collaboration and cloud services. After Cisco bought WebEx, they then had the key to computing in the cloud space, with WebEx’s hosted Web conferencing services. At the Cisco Partner Summit, we saw presentation after presentation highlight Cisco’s dedication to video and collaboration, and that its partners should emphasize these technologies to customers. Hosted email is probably one of the trickiest parts of the collaboration equation, given the multiple vendors already excelling at it. I’m curious to see if this pays off for Cisco, and even more so, if this will eventually pay off for partners.

Check out SearchITChannel.com’s coverage of Cisco expanding its collaboration offerings with hosted email.

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