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Channelizing Web 2.0

If there was doubt that the Web 2.0 phenomenon would hit the channel, it went out the window when Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers proclaimed Web 2.0 as the next big business technology for the channel.

Web 2.0

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LARRY HOOPER
Can be reached via e-mail at lrhooper@cmp.com.

Speaking at the 2007 Cisco Partner Summit in Las Vegas earlier this month, Chambers told some 2,500 partners that it was time to jump on the Web 2.0 bandwagon.

"I don't think there's ever been a better opportunity to be in this industry, a better time," Chambers said during a keynote address at the conference.

Web 2.0 is nothing more than the technologies that enable collaboration and social networking, Chambers said in a conversation with CRNtv. "I think it will change organizational structure, productivity, how you do health care, how you run your business, and how you communicate with your family," he said. "It's the next wave of the Internet, both for productivity and for changing people's lives."

But what does it all mean to solution providers? And how will they get a piece of the pie?

For now, it means it is time to start paying attention. But soon, Cisco's networking, voice and conferencing technologies will take on more social networking qualities, and IT will be more about collaboration.

The move from phones and e-mail to collaboration and Web 2.0 is a transition that "gives us all an opportunity to achieve things that before we only got to dream about," Chambers said. It's a transition that also puts Microsoft squarely in Cisco's sights.

Microsoft is positioning Exchange 2007 as a replacement for Cisco's Unity Express VoIP platform and is pushing further into the voice and unified communications market, especially in the small-business space. But Chambers isn't worried about the competition.

"We've got a three-year lead, and we've never lost a game where we had a three-year lead," Chambers said at the partner summit.

So, in a head-to-head battle between Cisco and Microsoft, which giant will win? With the coming clash of the titans, solution providers face a market likely to be defined by two of the largest channel-friendly companies in the business. In this case, it's the channel that wins.

What's your Web 2.0 business model? Join the discussion here or e-mail lrhooper@cmp.com (if you're Web 1.0).

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