Cisco Scoops Up Collaboration Startup Assemblage

In a bid to capture more opportunities around mobility and the Internet of Things, Cisco Systems acquired Assemblage, a provider of cloud-based collaboration applications.

Financial terms of the deal, which is already complete, were not disclosed.

San Francisco-based Assemblage makes real-time collaboration applications that can be accessed via a Web browser, allowing them to work on any mobile device or platform without the need for any additional downloads, plug-ins or installations.

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Assemblage's cloud apps let users share their screens, along with whiteboards and presentations, in real time. They also can work with other third-party cloud services, Cisco said, including those from Box and Google.

In a blog post, Hilton Romanski, senior vice president and head of business development at Cisco, said the Assemblage team will be rolled into Cisco's Collaboration Technology Group.

" We are excited to welcome Assemblage to our collaboration team," Romanski wrote. "Together, Cisco and Assemblage will provide simple, easy-to-use solutions that help employees work smarter together from virtually anywhere."

Brian Kinne, chief technology officer and vice president of digital media at Cleveland-based Cisco partner MCPc, said buying Assemblage suggests Cisco is looking to broaden its reach in the collaboration arena and start complementing some of the "non-TelePresence" tools.

"One of the industry’s challenges is to bridge the gap between the flexibility and features of the public cloud space and the need for flexibility within the private cloud space," Kinne wrote in an email to CRN. "Thus, investment in Web browser platforms, specifically those which do not require downloads [or] plug-ins, are going to be more attractive, which Cisco has now validated."

Kinne added that the Assemblage buy could help Cisco turn up the heat against collaboration competitors such as Microsoft, which has been "hot on their tail."

Jason Parry, vice president of Client Solutions at Force 3, a Crofton, Md.-based Cisco partner, said Assemblage's use of WebRTC technology to enable browser-to-browser communications is a win for Cisco.

"There is a WebRTC drive right now toward building out all these applications into a browser so there is no need to install a client or various kinds of software," Parry said. "Customers definitely want to be able to use applications from any device, and I think they also want their applications to be a little bit lighter-weight, so they don't always have to worry about deploying a client."

Scooping up Assemblage is one of several investments Cisco has made in its collaboration business over the past few months. At the Cisco Live 2014 event in May, the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant unveiled two new desktop endpoints -- the DX70 and DX80 -- along with a new cloud-based meeting room service called Cisco Collaboration Meeting Rooms.

In March, Cisco took the wraps off a new series of TelePresence MX endpoints, new video software, and Business Edition 7000, a scaled-out version of its Business Edition collaboration platform targeted at larger enterprise customers.