SHARE



ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Eric Krapf
Eric Krapf is General Manager and Program Co-Chair for Enterprise Connect, the leading conference/exhibition and online events brand in the...
Read Full Bio >>
SHARE



Eric Krapf | February 23, 2011 |

 
   

Cisco Giving up on Email

Cisco Giving up on Email An attempt to strike at a core Microsoft market comes up short.

An attempt to strike at a core Microsoft market comes up short.

Update: Zeus Kerravala's take on Cisco's move is here

In a noteworthy competitive development in its enterprise communications battle with Microsoft, Cisco has announced it's ending investment in Cisco Mail, the web-based email offering it was planning to use to challenge Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes for the enterprise email market.

The decision was announced in a Cisco blog by Debra Chrapaty, Senior VP and GM of Cisco's Collaboration Software Group. Here's the key passage: "The product has been well received, but we've since learned that customers have come to view their email as a mature and commoditized tool versus a long-term differentiated element of their collaboration strategy."

Chrapaty may be putting the best face on the situation, but that also rings true. Email as a commodity tool is what's driving many enterprises to consider moving this functionality to the cloud. Email as a mature technology makes it less susceptible to market disruptions and new competitors; Cisco won big in the PBX market because they were able to bring a new technology (IP) to bear on a market whose old technology was mature and essentially played out.

So even though Cisco Mail was a cloud-based platform, the company is acknowledging that customers just saw no reason to change vendors; presumably Microsoft Exchange customers will be looking to Microsoft's cloud-based 365 service if they want to get out of the business of running their own email servers.

Is that a killer for Cisco? Does the company that owns the email own the communications platform and user? I think it's way too early to conclude that. If nothing else, mobility is such a wild card in the whole communications picture that you can't predict who will "own" communications unless you can accurately predict how mobility is going to shake out in the enterprise--which I defy anyone to do.

The real cost to Cisco here seems more like simply a lost battle. With Microsoft challenging Cisco for session control (what we used to call the PBX), Cisco needed to respond in kind, so they attacked Microsoft's incumbent position in communications--i.e., email. That didn't work out for them. Whether it will cost Cisco anything more than the relatively small (by Cisco standards) amount of money and time they invested, remains to be seen.

I don't think it'll affect the battle over session control--Lync vs. UC Manager. That battle, I think, will be determined more by the role that enterprises decide this function should play in their communications systems, going forward.

Another important issue for Cisco could be the potential for a battle over the desktop interface--or, increasingly, whether the desktop will even be the primary interface used for communications by end users--if by "desktop" we mean PC or laptop screen. If tablets replace laptops to a major degree, does that give Avaya a renewed shot at dominance with its touch-screen Flare interface? (Assuming they decouple it from the ridiculously overpriced Desktop Video Device that right now serves more as a proof of concept than as an actual product). In a feature last year, Brent Kelly of Wainhouse Research suggested Avaya plans to take a run at Microsoft on the desktop. Cisco has its Cius tablet, but it's still unclear that a special-purpose tablet will defeat iPads or generic Android-based tablets for enterprise usage.

The role of the end-user interface in driving communications decisions will be one of the things to watch in the months and years ahead.





COMMENTS



Enterprise Connect Orlando 2017
March 27-30 | Orlando, FL
Connect with the Entire Enterprise Communications & Collaboration Ecosystem


Stay Up-to-Date: Hear industry visionaries in Keynotes and General Sessions delivering the latest insight on UC, mobility, collaboration and cloud

Grow Your Network: Connect with the largest gathering of enterprise IT and business leaders and influencers

Learn From Industry Leaders: Attend a full range of Conference Sessions, Free Programs and Special Events

Evaluate All Your Options: Engage with 190+ of the leading equipment, software and service providers

Have Fun! Mingle with sponsors, exhibitors, attendees, guest speakers and industry players during evening receptions

Special Offer - Save $200 Off Advance Rates

Register now with code NOJITTEREB to save $200 Off Advance Rates or get a FREE Expo Pass!

March 8, 2017

Enterprise IT's ability to innovate is critical to the success of the business -- 80% of CIOs agree. But the CIO role has never been more challenging than it is today, with rising operational respo

February 22, 2017

Sick of video call technology that make participants look like they're in the witness protection program? Turns out youre not alone. Poor-quality video solutions can give users an unprofessional ap

February 7, 2017

Securing voice communications used to be very simple since it was generally a closed system. However, with unified communications (UC) you no longer have the walled protection offered by a dedicate

February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.