Cisco May Go After Microsoft Office In The Cloud

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In a broadcast roundtable to discuss Cisco's cloud and SaaS strategies, Doug Dennerline, senior vice president of Cisco's collaboration software group, said Cisco is "thinking about" adding document drafting and sharing to its WebEx suite, Cisco's video conferencing and collaboration service. The addition of those Web-based services would pit Cisco in direct competition with Microsoft Office and Google Apps.

"That is an interesting space. We are certainly thinking about that," Dennerline said.

The roundtable was held Tuesday at Cisco's annual user conference, Cisco Live and Networkers in San Francisco.

The addition of document drafting and sharing in WebEx, which Cisco acquired in 2007, would complement its existing services like online meetings, instant messaging and email.

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Dennerline, who held the roundtable along with Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior, said Cisco is investigating the best ways the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant can harness the power of the cloud and document drafting and editing may be one future component.

Other future endeavors include offering voice as a service and offering Cisco Call Manager in the cloud, Dennerline said.

Additionally, Cisco is looking to build connectivity between clouds, linking together the clouds that different enterprises use. Warrior said Cisco is working toward what she called the "Intercloud," a series of clouds linked together.

"Cisco is working toward that," Warrior said.

And while Dennerline and Warrior said Cisco has big plans for the cloud and SaaS, the company isn't going to try and launch pay-as-you-go cloud services, like those offered by Amazon and others.

Overall, Warrior and Dennerline said, Cisco wants to make and sell the equipment that runs the cloud with cloud services being tied into its routing and switching offerings and its data center and virtualization architectures.

Dennerline said Cisco's focus with cloud services will be built around its already popular WebEx offerings, including integrating services like Cisco TelePresence video conferencing and the ability to save files from presentations and other functions. Another service Dennerline said Cisco may offer is online backup and storage via WebEx.

"We're now in the cloud business," Dennerline said.