Cisco Whacks Hosted E-Mail From Collaboration Lineup


Cisco late Tuesday confirmed it will discontinue Cisco Mail, a hosted e-mail product it first unveiled in the fall of 2009 as part of a big collaboration push. According to Cisco, customer response toward Cisco Mail has been positive but not embracing.

"The product has been well-received, but we've since learned that customers have come to view their e-mail as a mature and commoditized tool versus a long-term differentiated element of their collaboration strategy," wrote Debra Chrapaty, senior vice president and general manager, Collaboration Software Group, in a late Tuesday corporate blog post.

Chrapaty added that Cisco customers are more focused on "emerging collaboration tools such as social software and video," and that significantly influenced Cisco's decision to kill the e-mail product.

Cisco first unveiled Cisco Mail in a November 2009 collaboration product blitz, at which time it marked the networking giant's first foray into hosted e-mail. Positioned as a competitor to Google Apps, IBM Lotus Notes and other cloud-based e-mail offerings, Cisco Mail's basic package cost $5 per user per month, which included Microsoft Outlook integration and 5 GB of storage.

Chrapaty said that Cisco will support Cisco Mail trial customers for their length of their contract, and will integrate with "other e-mail systems to protect our customers' legacy communications investments." The Cisco Mail team will be reassigned to other collaboration products.

Cisco's investment in the project is said to have been about $250 million. Matthew Cain, a research vice president at Gartner, told several news outlets Wednesday that the Mail discontinuation casts a pall over the company.

"It puts a cloud over its other nascent initiatives such as Quad, Show and Share and Pulse," Cain said. "If Cisco pulling the plug on such an extensive effort, what reassurances do potential customers have that the same fate does not await other products?"