Partners Energized As Cisco Acquires Synata To 'Super-Charge' Its Spark Search

Its 2016 acquisition tear continued Tuesday as Cisco Systems said it has bought cloud search company Synata to "'deliver super-powered search" Cisco Spark, its business collaboration service. The move comes as new research from Synergy Research Group shows Cisco's collaboration leadership position against Microsoft is widening.

"The momentum is building around Spark," said Robert Keblusek, CTO of Downers Grove, Ill.-based Sentinel Technologies, a Cisco Gold partner. "This acquisition certainly makes sense around Spark and the direction they're looking to go around a hybrid experience. … I like it. They're making investments in their bread-and-butter technologies and trying to continue to show their leadership."

Privately held Synata, based in San Francisco, owns technology that allows users to search on-premise and cloud-based applications simultaneously from one platform. Cisco Spark is built on the Cisco Collaboration Cloud, allowing customers to message, meet or call anyone from anywhere.

[Related: Cisco Snapping Up CliQr For $260M To Better Manage Hybrid Clouds]

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Synata's search technology will work within Cisco Spark's approach of having end-to-end encryption in the cloud, according to a blog post Tuesday from Rowan Trollope, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's Internet of Things and Collaboration Technology Group.

"When I first saw what Synata could do on top of Cisco Spark's end-to-end encryption -- without negatively impacting speed or usability -- it blew me away," wrote Trollope. "[Synata] was working hard to solve the tricky problem of how you search something you can’t see -- something like highly encrypted data in the cloud. … We are all excited to deliver super-powered search to Cisco Spark users everywhere soon."

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Cisco's collaboration push in recent years has been praised by channel partners and embraced by customers.

San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is widening the gap in collaboration against Microsoft, according to new fourth-quarter 2015 worldwide data from Synergy Research Group. Cisco's overall collaboration market share for the quarter hit a two-year high of 16 percent. Microsoft took second place with 13 percent share, followed by Avaya with around 4 percent.

Regarding premise-based collaboration solutions, Cisco again was the leader, owning 27 percent of the market. Microsoft trailed with 17 percent share, followed by Avaya with nearly 10 percent, according to the research group.

But when it comes to hosted/cloud collaboration, Microsoft is the market leader with 9 percent, followed by Cisco with slightly more than 5 percent.

"There's some excitement with Spark now and we're hoping it ends up being a good thing for us as a partner … They're adding more services and voice services," said Sentinel Technologies' Keblusek.

Synata is the third acquisition the networking giant has disclosed since March 1, when Cisco said it would buy cloud management startup CliQr for $260 million at Cisco Partner Summit 2016 in San Diego. Cisco said CliQr would accelerate hybrid cloud adoption and bolster its own software-defined networking strategy.

On March 2, Cisco disclosed plans to purchase little-known Israel-based networking chip designer Leaba Semiconductor for $320 million. Cisco said Leaba, a venture-backed company, will accelerate its innovation strategy and give products even more differentiation in the market.

"It's exciting for partners because if you look at the Springpath partnership and investment, which is their hyper-converged platform; and [Synata], where they're really trying to deliver hybrid collaboration services; and then you look at CliQr, which is really about hybrid cloud services -- those are the big areas of investment in our company," said Keblusek. "All those areas ... are extremely hot and we're seeing high demand in our customer base for those technologies."