Cisco Regains Top Seat In Enterprise Collaboration Market From Microsoft

Cisco's recent investments in its collaboration business appear to be paying off.

The networking giant in the second quarter recaptured its top seat in the enterprise collaboration infrastructure market after ceding it to Microsoft earlier this year, according to new data from Synergy Research Group.

Synergy's report, released Monday, shows that Cisco was the No. 1 enterprise collaboration infrastructure vendor by revenue in the second quarter, with sales of its collaboration products accounting for 16 percent of total market sales.

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Microsoft claimed the runner-up spot with its revenue accounting for 15.8 percent, followed by Avaya and IBM, who accounted for 6 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively, of total market sales.

Cisco's lead suggests the company has managed to claw back its top position in the enterprise collaboration market from Microsoft, who, according to Synergy, stole the lead from Cisco in the first quarter. Microsoft sales accounted for roughly 21 percent of total market revenue in the first quarter, narrowly beating out Cisco's 20 percent.

"In Q2 Cisco bounced back from a poor start to the year in the enterprise voice segment and also saw strong growth in WebEx, though telepresence revenues remained soft," said Jeremy Duke, Synergy founder and chief analyst, in a statement.

Cisco's second-quarter win comes amid a major shake-up to the San Jose, Calif.-based company's collaboration line. Over the past several months, Cisco has significantly broadened its portfolio to include new video endpoints, a revamped version of its Business Edition unified communications platform and the Cisco TelePresence SX10 Quick Set, a plug-and-play system designed specifically for the SMB market.

Cisco this year also launched new collaboration software called Intelligent Proximity, which can wirelessly share slide presentations and other materials being shown on a video conference screen with users' mobile devices.

Steven Robb, president of the Solutions Group at LaSalle Solutions, a Rosemont, Ill.-based solution provider, said LaSalle's Cisco collaboration business is up 77 percent compared to last year, growth he attributed to some of the sleek and SMB-friendly products Cisco has churned out this year.

Robb specifically applauded Cisco's new DX80 endpoint, an all-in-one desktop collaboration device that serves as a monitor, a phone and a videoconferencing unit in a single, tablet-like package.

"In the collaboration sector, I think what we are going to start to experience is even accelerated growth, based on some of the new products, the simplicity that we are seeing from Cisco," Robb told CRN. "I think Cisco has even taken some cues, design-wise, from Apple, and they have really spent some time creating a less complex, more integrated collaboration platform."

Robb said he sees Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's collaboration group, as a key driver behind Cisco's recent collaboration wins. Trollope, a former Symantec executive, became head of Cisco's collaboration business in 2012.

"Really, I think a lot of things comes from who is leading the direction and who is leading the charge, and the head of collaboration right now at Cisco -- he's just got it," Robb said.

Despite recapturing the lead, Cisco's second-quarter market share was still down compared to the same period last year, when its sales accounted for nearly 18 percent of total market revenue, Synergy's data shows.

Synergy said total enterprise collaboration revenue -- which includes sales of voice and UC applications, telepresence, email software, enterprise content management and enterprise social networks -- grew 2 percent year-over-year to $7.7 billion. Sales of UC-as-a-Service and enterprise social networking applications were especially strong, shooting up 17 percent and 20 percent, respectively.