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Gary Berzack, COO and CTO of TribecaExpress, a New York-based solution provider, said Jabber for Everyone was a move Cisco had to make to get Jabber more traction against "a lot of competing products that do this."
"This is significant in that it's both client and server licenses incorporated for entire organizations," Berzack said. "It's a mature product. It's important it's a Cisco-branded free product, because you can now reliably implement a commercial Jabber that other additions can be plugged into. Embedded hardware, with Jabber in it, is now going to be viable because you've already made this investment in the free version."
Several solution providers viewed the move as a counterstrike against Microsoft, which is gaining traction with its UC platform, Lync, and which Cisco called out from the stage as a major competitor.
Gia McNutt, CEO of SOS, a Loomis, Calif.-based solution provider, said that one of SOS' stalwart Cisco voice customers recently decided to move to Microsoft's platform. The Jabber announcement would offer more to partners to help prevent those types of defections, she said.
"This is a potential game-changer in the face of Lync," McNutt said. "Lync is getting out there, no question. This is going to make it easier for Cisco customers to use Jabber and keep them."
Along with the Jabber for Everyone move, Cisco also confirmed it would invest $1 million in a fourth fiscal quarter promotion to assist partners in driving Jabber adoption. Specifically, said Rob Lloyd, Cisco's executive vice president, worldwide operations, Cisco will reimburse partners for services associated with deploying Jabber to customers -- up to $20,000 for each partner, depending on the number of Jabber seats deployed in the fourth quarter.
Partners agreed that Cisco needed to catalyze Jabber adoption.
"I wonder if Facebook buying Instagram for $1 billion really showed [Cisco] what could happen if they got 35 [million], 50 [million], 100 million people using this technology," Berzack said. "It's going to depend a lot on how well they market it. They're asking the community to do it, this audience of partners. If that community each deployed some 100 to 1,000 seats of that technology, you could easily see, in the commercial space, 10 million Jabber users in a short period. Let's hope they spend time getting Jabber to be clean, crisp and deliverable."