Cisco is talking a lot at its annual user conference, Cisco Live, but it’s not always being definitive. Cisco is said to be considering an expansion to its WebEx collaboration suite to include document authoring and management that would compete, in part, with Microsoft Office, but also with Google Docs and other online applications. Cisco also said it would be virtualizing voice and making it a cloud offering, and announced some WebEx support for private clouds, departing from its original strategy to support it only as a Cisco-hosted service.
The moves come as Cisco reorganizes its development council along more traditional lines (enterprise/commercial, service provider, consumer) and largely eliminates the high-level software group that contained the WebEx products. Cisco is shifting its original everything-hosted strategy to a hybrid-cloud model in our view, which is smart given that’s what enterprises want. The question is whether Cisco wants to be the public part of the hybrid cloud or wants to empower service providers to take that role.
The comments made by Cisco’s CTO suggest that Cisco doesn’t want to be an infrastructure-as-a-service provider but isn’t ruling out platform-as-a-service and certainly not SaaS. Cisco also indicated it was ready to meet the challenge of Google Voice and Google Wave in Unified Communication, which at least shows that Google knows that Wave and Voice are UC challenges. We wonder if Cisco might not get too diverted in a battle with Google; it would be better to simply adapt Cisco UC to work inside Wave and to integrate it with Voice using APIs.