Cisco Revamps Collaboration Portfolio Around WebEx Brand

Cisco Tuesday confirmed a number of updates to its collaboration portfolio, including that it will rebrand several major product lines -- notably the social collaboration platform Quad and the hosted TelePresence service Callway -- under its well-known, highly regarded WebEx moniker.

According to Cisco, WebEx is the second largest public cloud platform specific to business collaboration applications, behind only -- and Web conferencing is a potential $4.9 billion total addressable market within three years. There are 6.4 million WebEx hosts per month with about 31 million attendees per month, according to Richard McLeod, senior director, worldwide collaboration channel sales at Cisco, San Jose, Calif.

"That market adoption is pretty significant, and we're going to be leveraging that pretty heavily," he told CRN this week.

[Related: Cisco: Collaboration Is The Partner Investment Opportunity of the Decade ]

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Cisco Quad, which was introduced in 2010, will now be known as WebEx Social and sport a number of new capabilities. The platform now offers Microsoft Office integration for using Word, PowerPoint and Excel capabilities within WebEx Social, and e-mail integration so that customers using e-mail clients such as Outlook can stay in those clients while they create content in the Cisco software.

Cisco also is adding new features to its WebEx Social iPhone and iPad clients that let users transition between social networking functions and UC tools such as IM and voice calls from their mobile application. Video users can also access browser-based video calling compatible with various Cisco and other video endpoints, mobile and soft clients.

WebEx Social will continue to be offered under the same on-premise and hosted models as Quad was, and McLeod said Cisco has no immediate plans to change the pricing. On-premise, customers buy a WebEx Social Server, and in the hosted model, Cisco continues to sell through partners Logicalis, ACS and Alphawest.

Callway, which Cisco introduced last fall as a hosted TelePresence option for small-business users, will now be known as Cisco WebEx TelePresence. New features added since its October launch include the ability to host video calls with up to nine users, support for Cisco's TelePresence MX300 and SX20 systems, and an adjusted pricing scheme that includes a pre-pay option for customers making orders.

McLeod declined to offer specifics on Callway growth among partners and customers but said Cisco had seen "very rapid uptake in the U.S. and some good beginnings in Canada."

"The whole mobile environment is changing everything," McLeod explained. "We're providing a much richer solution to take to market."

NEXT: More Cisco WebEx News

Additional updates made by Cisco in line with this week's Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston include a WebEx Social software development kit for connecting various WebEx functions to other business applications, the ability to integrate WebEx Social with calendaring applications, and new WebEx Social interfaces for both Web and mobile.

Cisco also has created a feature called "Expert Q&A" that allows WebEx Social users to "crowdsource" answers to specific questions by routing them to people in the organization designated as subject experts.

The updated WebEx Social Server is globally available in July, with the cloud-based version expected to be available in North America around the same time. Among other announcements, Cisco's WebEx Connect will be known as Cisco WebEx Messenger, which instead of the Cisco WebEx Connect client will now use Cisco's Jabber client.

Along with WebEx, Jabber has been another collaboration-specific success story for Cisco, and the two platforms are viewed by partners as some of Cisco's strongest weapons against Microsoft's fast-growing Lync UC platform.

At the Cisco Partner Summit in April, Cisco said it would make presence and IM capabilities and Jabber clients available at no additional licensing cost to Cisco customers and invest $1 million in a fourth-quarter promotion to reimburse partners for Jabber service deployments.

McLeod declined to say whether Cisco is considering similar promotions behind its latest WebEx push but said partners should expect more news around Cisco collaboration heading into its new fiscal year.