Cisco Systems Friday completed its $1.9 billion acquisition of BroadSoft, extending the networking giant's aggressive, software-centric strategy and giving it a larger slice of the unified communications market.
Acquiring Gaithersburg, Md.-based BroadSoft accelerates Cisco's cloud strategy by adding cloud calling and contact center solutions to Cisco's existing communications portfolio, which includes calling, meetings and messaging software and services.
Former BroadSoft CEO Michael Tessler is joining Cisco as part of the acquisition. BroadSoft will be part of Cisco's Unified Communications Technology Group, which is led by Vice President and General Manager Tom Puorro. The UC group is part of the company's Applications Group, which is led by Senior Vice President and General Manager Rowan Trollope.
When the acquisition was announced last October, several solution providers told CRN that the deal would make Cisco a competitor to partners that had invested in establishing hosted voice practices. Partners contacted by CRN Friday, however, said those concerns are outweighed by the diversification the acquisition brings to the Cisco portfolio.
Bringing BroadSoft aboard, "will enable Cisco partners to have more options for customers when it comes to on-prem, cloud or hybrid UC and contact center deployments," said Joe Berger, collaboration practice director at World Wide Technology, a large St. Louis, Mo., Cisco partner. "It should allow Cisco to become more competitive in the hosted UC space, especially in the mid-market and SMB segments."
Gary Berzack, CTO at eTribeca, a New York City-based Cisco partner, said it'll be interesting for the channel to see how Cisco integrates the BroadSoft portfolio. "Historically, transactions by Cisco are absorbed within 90 days, but some never get fully absorbed, like [cloud-managed WiFi unit] Meraki," Berzack said. "It's still being decided as far as the channel is concerned. Is it going to be like Meraki where integrators get to choose between Meraki or Cisco UC? That's exactly where we are."
Cisco has a chance to truly differentiate itself from the rest of the UC pack if it can integrate BroadSoft with its Cisco services, Berzack said. "Microsoft acquired Skype, and we've never seen the fruition of that, and the weak point in the enterprise has been in customer service," Berzack said. "If Cisco can leverage their outstanding support desk and really make it work for the customer base, then we have something that's truly dynamic."